Monday, January 28, 2008

So what if I watched Frontline

Last Thursday, between the final new episodes of "Chuck", I started my TV channel flipping at the very bottom of the dial -- channel 2.4 to be exact. That's when I caught the beginning of the venerable PBS series "Frontline". They were featuring teens and online social networks. I was instantly drawn to it.

I immediately started to think how this show related to the rather timely happenings in Eden Prairie involving the ignorant Eden Prairie High School students who thought it was cool to post pictures of themselves tossing back various alcoholic beverages on their public Facebook profiles.

The topic ran the gamut of what can happen and how various teens handle their increasingly public inline lives and it also got me thinking. I wondered how it is that these teens, all in a New Jersey town, even have real life interactions after they base so much of their lives in an online venue where, as one stated, it's all about collecting friends and openly admitted that there's no possible way she could know even a small percentage of her over 2,000 friends.

Some of the stories were about legitimate uses that teens have for online social networks and some stories featured the darker side such as relentless online bullying, one instance which even led to a teen's suicide.

I'm not going to deride these teens as I spend a fair amount of time online but I do so because my job requires it. I make money scheming about new ways to make a buck online and how each new development ties in to the growing portfolio of products and sites we as a company own. They (social networks) are great for keeping in touch with distant friends. I have plenty of friends who live a hundred miles away and it beats e-mailing photos and exchanges back and forth. The lesson is to have discretion in what is posted. Think about how public your information is and just what you admit to. Think about who, in a moment of anger, could take what you wrote and send it to eveyone in their contact list. Think twice about semi-nude pics of yourself.

It's not rocket science but some of those teens featured on that particular Frontline episode act like it is based on the actions they have taken online, the sheer amount of time they spend online and the fact that they admit that they wouldn't know what to do without a computer in front of them.

This first generation to grow up totally immersed in the online world will likely have some hurdles to overcome but they will also be shrewd in a world where the internet is the norm, not just a passing fad.

How about everyone else? What do your online activities consist of? Do you have a LinkedIn profile? How about Facebook or MySpace? Xanga? If you're a Minnesotan do you MnSpeak?


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No said...

Tell me about it...I could write a book, and maybe I will...

I'll be making my journal available to "invited guests only" in the next couple of weeks for precisely that reason; if you want to read the very exciting "Oops, I did it Again" let me know by e-mail...if not, I understand.

H said...

I haven't gotten sucked into Myspace, but I'm a Facebook addict despite the fact that when I first heard of it I thought it was the stupidest thing ever. It's been a great way to keep in touch with people, but I probably spend entirely too much time on it.

Michelle Ann said...

Blogging is all I am guilty of...but I credit half the knowledge in my brain to the internet.

Is that bad?

Brooke said...

I have a myspace account which I check about every other day and basically opened up to get into the loop with old friends from college. It has been pretty good for talking to people that I have lost touch with but honestly, in most case, you tend to lose touch for a reason and I really don't have too much to say beyond general catching up. I make sure my profile is private and I don't take requests from anyone I don't know so I guess I am pretty boring on the whole.

Beth said...

The time I spend blogging and on Messenger is bad enough. If I joined Facebook or Myspace I wouldn't have any time for a "real" life.