Tuesday, August 12, 2014

SOCIAL MEDIA NIGHTMARE

As I sit here tonight and write this post, it's raining very heavily outside. A rare occasion in Arizona, but one most of us look forward to because tomorrow, everything looks clean. Even the air we breathe is different.

I often think of rain as someone in heaven crying, and that's a bit like how I feel right now after watching an episode of 20/20 on ID which aired a story about two Stuebenville, Ohio teenagers who raped a young woman against her will while she was incapacitated from drinking too much, and being egged on to drink more throughout the night. A houseful of teens, no parents around, they were celebrating after a win of a preseason football game.

One woman being interviewed was the editor of Seventeen Magazine. She said kids today live in a fishbowl. Everything they do, they record in pictures and post it to social media because they think it's fun. Pictures that helped convict these two promising young men who must now register themselves as sex offenders for the next 20 years--the very boys who were guaranteed football scholarships to two of the most prestigious colleges in the United States, but now, that's a thing in the past.

What I find even more upsetting is kids need to realize there are consequences from their actions. They've been raised by loving parents or guardians who've protected them all their lives. Then the second protector enters their lives--the football coach who even heard about what happened, but did nothing except advise the kids to only answer the questions being asked by the police and not to offer more information.  And here we are again, the boys thought for sure their status in the community as the super jocks on the football team would protect them. A team filled with members who were revered by everyone in town who knew them on a first-name basis.

What's even sadder is this crime would never have been reported if it wasn't for one woman, a crime blogger, who saw the pictures on Twitter and Facebook and investigated the event. It didn't take her long to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And what she found was so appalling that she couldn't sit back without doing something about it. Today, this blogger is being criticized. That's right, criticized for doing the right thing. And once she presented the voluminous amount of evidence, the case was pretty much cut and dry, and all that was left was having a trial.

A most unfortunate thing in today's world is that many teenagers do not realize what they're doing by posting their minute-by-minute happenings on the web and showing it to the world. Things they don't even realize is a crime. Understand that I'm not suggesting they do these things but avoid posting the pictures, I'm saying, don't do them. As evidenced by what happened to these two young men, trust me, it's not worth the future heartache.

As a parent and now a grandmother, I realize parents can't be with their teenagers every minute, and that you hope that what you've taught them will be enough. But that's not always the case. Both young men had loving parents who couldn't believe what had happened because that's not how these boys were raised. One mother said the boy on trial was not the son she raised.

So there are a few things here that need to be addressed: Acting responsible when they aren't with their parents, teenage drinking and telling the world everything they're doing, because there's always someone watching. I'm glad I'm not raising young kids today because it's a tough job--I don't envy them. Between pier pressure, the super jock imagine, and doing the right thing, they need to know that one silly mistake can cost them their future, and no matter how many times they apologize, it doesn't mean they're off the hook.