April 17, 2012

O is for...Online

I could write about a great many things that relate to my A to Z Challenge 'O' word→ ONLINE. I could write about how Twitter and this blog have connected me to many of you; how I finally got so sick of Facebook recently that I deleted my account; or how I all too often fritter away hours on end on the internet, wasting time when I should be writing or doing something that is more worthwhile.

But instead, I'm going to write about some of the disturbing (jaw-dropping, rage-inducing) trends, applications, and practices I've stumbled across in the past little while during my web wanderings.

First On the DocketEnemyGraph*


For those of you who don't know about this god-awful new Facebook application, let me fill you in. EnemyGraph is the brainchild (demon spawn?) of a University of Texas at Dallas professor and his two students. For some time now there has been a public cry for a 'dislike' button on Facebook, and since such a button isn't forthcoming, these geniuses** decided to come up with this app that allows FB users to make enemies of everyone/thing from 'friends', to celebrities, to fast-food franchises. As of yesterday, Trending Enemies included: Justin Bieber, Sarah Palin, FarmVille, and Jesus Christ, among others. But it doesn't stop there. Users can make enemies of people in their friend list as well. Why, you may ask, would someone do that to one of their friends? Well, we all know—especially in high school—how a person can be a best friend one day and get relegated to mortal enemy the next.

As if this labelling isn't bad enough, EnemyGraph allows people to band together around common 'enemies'. Denise Restauri, contributor to Forbes online, sums up the inevitable damage from this:
"Here's the harmful reality:  EnemyGraph gives bullies and people with a sick sense of humor a great way to bully and attack. It's another example of 'Absolutely nothing good can come of this.'" —Forbes.com (April 3, 2012)
She couldn't be more right. Cyberbullying is a very real and disturbing problem in this day and age. Why empower these bullies with a tool that makes bullying easier? Shame on everyone involved.

Next On the DocketAm I Pretty or Ugly? (on YouTube)
Disclaimer:  I'm including this video as a means of informing, not of perpetuating this awful trend.


As I understand it, this heart-wrenching trend started cropping up on YouTube as a way for young girls (not sure about boys) to gather public opinion on whether they are pretty or ugly. These often beautiful girls have taken their self-esteem issues to the web. To echo the Forbes article's verdict of EnemyGraph, nothing good can come from this. Online predators, bullies, and people just looking to be perverted or hateful flock to these kinds of things. It begs the question: Where are her parents?! It's a toss-up which is more disturbing: that this video has more than 5 million views (I guess I'm adding to that, sadly), or some of the things viewers wrote in the comments section just below it.

A heartfelt response to these Am I Pretty?  videos→ More people need to speak out about this:


From the time the internet hatched we've been warned about the potential dangers to be found there. We all know what these are. But then I see things like EnemyGraph and the Am I Pretty?  videos, and I know that the problems are just mutating, multiplying, and finding new and insidious ways to harm people. What can we do to stop this? I honestly don't know. But I think we can all agree that the best way to protect people from these dangers is to spread the word that this is not okay.

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* Seeing this was what finally gave me the nudge I needed to delete my Facebook account (already wanted to do it). It sickens me that the "servers are struggling" with the high demand for this app.
** Note sarcasm.

36 comments:

  1. It makes me really sad to see that video and to think this is a trend *online*! What these kids miss is the fact that true beauty and true ugliness really is a character thing. I'm sure they hear that all the time on TV, but I'm old enough now to know the external really doesn't give you the whole picture. Ugly=EnemyGraph. Ugly=putting someone down because of the way they look. Pretty=being a friend to others. Pretty=putting others before yourself. Pretty=being generous. And the best thing about the internal Ugly/Pretty is you can actually do something about it. Ugly people can become really Pretty. Without surgery.

    Someone should write a YA novel about this... perhaps something dystopian, where teenagers get surgery to make themselves "pretty" but with sinister side-effects... okay, so Scott Westerfeld is ahead of the game again! :)

    Thanks for this, Jaime. A sad but necessary education into what's going on in the cyberworld.

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    1. It's sad that so many kids still don't believe that real beauty comes from within. I know what it's like to stress about appearance—I'm a human female—but I also know that there are some really ugly beautiful people and some really beautiful not-as-physically-attractive people (I feel guilty even typing that last bit). I know these things are difficult to weed out of social media, but Facebook and YouTube should at least try.

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  2. Wow, these are really awful! You're right: absolutely NOTHING good can come from either of these things. That Enemy Graph just opens the doors to bullying, and the Am I Pretty? thing is tragic...

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    1. The worst part is that I know that these are only two examples of probably hundreds of similarly damaging trends online. It makes me angry and it makes me sad. My husband and I don't have kids yet, but it worries me. What will our kids have to contend with?

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  3. Thanks for sharing these, Jaime. I wasn't aware of either of them, but they're very real and very serious. It shocks me that parents don't monitor their children's use of the internet.

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    1. The only thing I feel like I can do is spread the word about these awful trends. I know things like this will never go away, but maybe if more people know about them they'll put pressure on social media providers like Facebook and YouTube to try and weed out this garbage. We can only hope anyway.

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    2. I wonder if there are any sort of petitions we could sign or start or something. I'll have to do some research.

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    3. There is this small petition here against EnemyGraph at change.org: https://www.change.org/petitions/enemygraph-facebook-app-stop-opening-new-platforms-for-bullying

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    4. Thank you! I'm off to sign it...

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  4. Wow, I had no idea about that 'Am I Pretty' thing until you brought it up. I don't think that kids these days have enough self confidence, so they look for others to give it to them. I've known lot of people who do things on a dare, to try to 'prove' themselves. They want someone to believe in them, because they don't believe in themselves. That video is so sad, mainly because whether she's pretty on the outside or not, she should know that it's what's on the inside that counts.

    Thanks for sharing this.

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    1. I heard about these videos some months ago, but I'm still appalled. There have always been issues of self-esteem and self-confidence among young people, but this just takes that to a whole new level. It's sad and dangerous in so many ways.

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  5. *JAW DROPS*!!!! Whoa. Reminds of what the origins of FB were to begin with (According to the movie).

    I actually enjoy FB b/c I see my remote family and friends on there and do not "friend" many people. But I can see how it could quickly turn evil for people!

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    1. I should probably have stated that I don't hate FB—it just wasn't for me anymore (too many other forms of social media to juggle). I just really wish that FB would weed out garbage like this. My husband pointed out that for a social networking site, this app sure is anti-social. I hope it gets nipped in the bud.

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  6. Yep, you're right. Those are some truly awful online trends. That 'ugly/beautiful' thing just makes me so sad.

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    1. I know. It's truly sad that self-esteem issues lead young girls to do things like this.

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  7. This is sad.
    I took care of little girls from the time they were 3 and 5 until they were 10 and 12 years old. They were bridesmaids at my wedding and I love them very very much. Knowing that they or their friends could be bullied in any form or shape saddens me. I know it happens, I know that one day the bullied can become the one who does the bullying but this Am I pretty? - I have no words. The internet is a good thing, it connects people but there should be a way that kids know that certain things do more harm than good.

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    1. You're right—the internet can be a really good thing. And then there's damaging stuff like EnemyGraph and Am I Pretty? There's always something new and terrible cropping up. It makes me sad and angry all at the same time.

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  8. Sorry, I don't have much to contribute here, but that loud bang you may have heard just before 2pm was my brain exploding while I read this. I can't even...I can't.

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    1. Especially with all of the push to stop bullying, you'd think things like this would get shut down fast. I've been watching EnemyGraph, though, and it's not budging. I wish social media giants like Facebook and YouTube would make a concerted effort to weed out some of this stuff. It's a giant task, but I'd like to know they're at least trying.

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  9. Eek. Every time I hear mention of the "Am I Pretty" videos, I pray that my daughter will never feel such pressure or endure such self-esteem issues. This phenomenon (and the better part of society's reaction to it) makes me so incredibly sad. And I hadn't heard of EnemyGraph, but yikes. I agree: No good can come of this.

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    1. It does make me nervous about having daughters. I know that there will always be self-esteem issues and pressure to look a certain way, but I'd like to think we're better than stuff like this. It's truly sad and infuriating all at the same time.

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  11. These videos still hurt my heart. Oh, and can I add enemygraph to my list of enemies? I'm not going to delete my facebook account because it's one of the ways I keep up with former students, but I am SO tempted. GRRRRR.

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    1. The crazy thing is that some people have selected EnemyGraph as one of their enemies. Hmm...not sure if that just proves the creators' point or not. They should know better than this. Intelligent (supposedly) adults creating something that will so easily facilitate bullying is unconscionable.

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  12. Yuck. That's all it really amounts to. I never stressed about what I looked like as a kid/teenager/adult. But such is the external society we live in. And from a behavioral science standpoint, a lack of support allows for such a trend to happen. My kids are beautiful, and I tell them that every day. Kudos to putting this out there, Jamie. I hope the people who need to read it most find it. :

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    1. I struggled with self-esteem issues growing up (still do), so it makes me ill seeing videos like this. Only damage can come from such a thing. I hope that these girls find people who keep telling them just how beautiful they are until it sinks in.

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  13. I can't type straight I'm so sick. Where are her parents???? And who are these bottom feeders leaving sexual comments to an 11 year old????? This makes my stomach ache. Literally, I'm nauseous.

    Good for you for bringing it to people's attention. What a God forsaken world this is sometimes.

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    1. I read some of the comments after the video too, and I was absolutely appalled by many of them. Are there no guidelines or anything on YouTube? But again, where are this girl's parents? How do they not know that a) their child is this insecure, and b) that she's making videos like this? It makes me ill too. I hope that this child finds people who let her know each and every day how much she matters and how beautiful she is until she starts believing it.

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  14. Ugh, I can't imagine why sites like Am I Pretty exist! I remember seeing this on a news program a few weeks ago, and not once did the reporter question where they parents were. So sad. :(

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    1. I feel like social media giants like Facebook and YouTube should be at least attempting to weed out garbage like this. With all of the anti-bullying push in recent years, you'd think this would be a priority. Apparently not. Makes me sad, angry, and sick.

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  15. Hello, Jaime! That is a terrible application. I don't add apps to my Facebook so I don't know what people are using. I'm glad Facebook has not added a dislike button. People put enough negativity in this world without adding more to it. I'd much rather have a love it button!

    Have a lovely week and happy A to Z!!

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    1. I can't even remember where I heard about this EnemyGraph thing now that I think about it. I didn't use any apps either when I had my FB account. You're right about the negativity thing. Why can't we just try to get along?

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  16. Oh my Lord. Can these people be serious? An ENEMY APP? I can only fervently hope that these people are in it for the money, and don't actually believe that banding together as enemies is a good thing... 0_o

    And my God. The "Am I pretty?" stuff -- so glad you brought it to my attention. I think as many people need to know about it as possible, because that is just WRONG and I can't imagine how hurtful it is to receive such criticism, and from strangers, no less. I just wish people'd realize that it doesn't matter how pretty you are as long as you're a GOOD PERSON. That's it. At least the way I see it. *sigh*

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    1. Isn't it terrible? I think they saw an opportunity and jumped on it. I can almost guarantee that these guys are in it for the money (not that that makes it right or anything).

      And as for the "Am I Pretty?" videos→ this just kind of takes self-esteem issues to a whole new level. I can't even believe some of the things that were in the video comment section. Just awful. And the sad thing is that this isn't the only video like this.

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  17. Oh my gosh. Jaime, I hadn't heard of any of this! The facebook stuff or the videos... what land am I living in??? This makes me ill. How tragic! :/

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  18. That first one makes me furious (at the people who created it -- really, were they HOPING to create drama?) and the second is just sad. I'm glad I deleted my FB account about 5 months ago. I don't even want to be near any of this craziness. As if today's youth (and adults) need even more negativity and bullying!

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