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It’s a different world

Posted: August 7, 2014 7:35 a.m.
Updated: August 8, 2014 5:00 a.m.

As time goes by, I find myself more and more slipping into the role of the “grumpy old man.” I guess that’s a natural evolution for most of us as we age, but I now often find myself saying things like “back in my day” or “things were a lot different when I was a kid.” Well, those statements are true; there’s no denying it.

Back in my day, we didn’t have celebrities who were famous just for being famous, at least not that I remember. Celebrities used to be famous because they had some sort of talent that warranted us paying attention to them. We had Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Elvis Presley, The Beatles and many more. Today we have Kim Kardashian and Paris Hilton. Of course, we now also have truly talented people who deserve the adulation they receive, but I just don’t remember anyone from the 1960s or 70s that could be compared to Kardashian or Hilton. Do you?

When did we turn that corner and how did it happen? At least one reason has to be the immediate access we now have to celebrity news and gossip. Someone does something -- good, bad or indifferent -- and it’s immediately available through Facebook, Twitter or any number of online sources. That makes it so much easier for the “famous” to stay in front of our eyes. It used to be that if you wanted to see James Arness or Lucille Ball you had to turn on your TV to CBS on Monday night. You had to seek out the celebrities you wanted to see. Now, they seek us out.

What inspired this rant and prompted this week’s column is the story that came out this week in Wednesday’s Chronicle-Independent about the growing problem of underage girls getting their nude photos distributed all over the internet. That is squarely because of the available technology that allows it to be done. Like so many things, technology is a wonderful thing when used properly, with caution and responsibility. But it’s quite unrealistic to expect adolescents to always do the responsible thing. That’s why there are parents.

Back in my day, we didn’t have digital cameras, much less portable telephones that could take photos and even shoot videos, then send them to another person or post them on a network that could make them available to anyone in the world. If someone wanted to take explicit photos they had to have either their own darkroom to develop that film, or a Polaroid camera that didn’t require the film to be processed. Even then, that was the only copy of that photo and although it could be shown to a limited number of people, it couldn’t be blasted around the world in a matter of seconds.

Parents, many of you may remember those “dark ages” I’m talking about. Today’s kids need to be seriously warned about the consequences of taking such photos and sharing them. Like Sheriff Jim Matthews said, most are taken by girls who initially think they’ll share it only with their boyfriend and that’s as far as it will go. But, young love can be fleeting and as Matthews said, “boyfriend today, gone tomorrow.” That’s when the real trouble starts. He shares it with his friends and the next thing you know, one of them or maybe the angry ex-boyfriend himself has sent it to the internet.

I absolutely am not blaming the victims here, but the best way to stop this is at the source. If no explicit photo is taken, there’s no photo to fall into the wrong hands. Problem solved. Talk to your daughters about this. Talk to your sons. Sure, it can be a very touchy subject, but it is for the safety and happiness of your children, something I’m sure we all want.

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