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Postmodern Party Line for 80 Million: Porn, Predators, Peer Pressure … and No Parents

Postmodern Party Line for 80 Million: Porn, Predators, Peer Pressure … and No Parents
By Rebecca Grace

(AgapePress) – Social networking Internet sites are not only a billion-dollar facet of the communication industry aimed at young people, but also playgrounds for sexual predators and portals to pornography.

Social networking sites serve as online communities where users — mostly teens — post pictures and personal information as well as journal entries that are available to others for comments and perusal. It is akin to what used to be hanging out at the local drive-in or talking on a party line, only much more dangerous.

A host of disturbing facts and scenarios reveal that online predators use sites such as MySpace.com to stalk their prey (see earlier article). In addition such sites feature a glut of homemade pornographic images, profanity and sex talk in which young people share about their sexual activities and preferences.

In other words, the Internet — particularly social networking sites — is a showcase of sexual promiscuity. The abuse of this cultural and technological phenomenon is drawing young people into a downward spiral of immorality in which all sense of right and wrong seems to be lost.

“Of more than 2,500 university and college students polled across Canada, 87% of them are having sex over Instant Messenger, webcams or the telephone, according to results of a national survey,” reported Yahoo News in February 2006.

Cultural Corruption

“What kids are doing online is unbelievable,” said Rebecca Hagelin, family advocate and author of Home Invasion. “Our kids are not just consuming pornography,” she said, “they’re becoming pornographers because it’s so prevalent, and they’ve been on a steady diet of it. You become what you consume.”

According to a media study by the London School of Economics and referenced by Hagelin, our kids consume six-and-one-half hours of media every day with the vast majority of it being what Hagelin described as “sexual, violent, uncivil and often plain stupid.”

“So when children go online to create their Web pages, they’re mimicking what they’re seeing in the media,” she added. “They’re creating very provocative material because that’s what they see when they go online, when they pick up a magazine, when they see a commercial on television.

“It’s an obsession with provocative sexuality …,” Hagelin said, and the evidence is in all avenues of the media.

Based on the popularity of MTV, Desperate Housewives and “Grand Theft Auto” — all sexually suggestive forms of media — there is no mistaking that today’s young people, including those from Christian homes, are vulnerable to the influence of a sexualized culture. “We’re just looking more and more, everyday, like the world,” Hagelin admitted. The contents of these social networking sites justify her claim.

Homosexual Hub

According to the October 25, 2005, issue of The Advocate, a leading homosexual magazine, a social networking site known as Facebook.com is a fast growing community of primarily intercollegiate students, especially gays and lesbians.

Chris Hughes, a spokesman for the site, told The Advocate how Facebook intended to be gay-friendly from the beginning and hoped “to open up as much space as possible for different identities.”

“Out on the Facebook” is a term commonly used in cyberspace when a user describes himself or herself as being interested in same-sex dating, explained The Advocate. “Being out on the Facebook is a statement, just like coming out face-to-face. It has that same value: Robert Kennelley, a homosexual Princeton University student, told The Advocate.

Such a statement proves how much value young people place on technology as a means of personal identification. It defines who they are, and for the majority, it is a way of life.

According to The Advocate, in late 2005, MySpace.com was home to more than 10,000 user groups who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Identifying with a user group is an important part of online social networking. The process involves users creating their own personal bios — sometimes true, often fabricated.

“At first you’ve got to form your own identify — figure out who you are,” University of Mississippi student William Denney told WORLD Magazine. “The groups you join are a big part of that …. You can create a false sense of popularity through your Facebook profile.”

This fluid notion of truth and morality reveals much about Christian kids who use the social networking sites. “What [this] says is today’s youth don’t have a call to holiness on their lives,” Hagelin explained. “Their spirits are not sensitive to the call of Christ, [which is] for us to be peculiar people, for us to stand out from the world, for us to take Christ’s love and to have it seriously reflected in our lives.”

The sensitivity to distinguish between right and wrong is culturally nonexistent, while the pressure to gratify one’s self is overwhelming. “Anybody who’s anybody is on MySpace,” said Al Kush, deputy director of WiredSafety.org, quoting a 16-year-old from Seattle. “If you’re in with the in-crowd, you’ve got to be there. So there’s a lot of peer pressure, too,’ he said.

And according to Hagelin, children are not the only ones folding to the pressure to identify themselves on social networking sites. For example, Hagelin constantly comes in contact with youth pastors who justify using MySpace to communicate with their youth. “In other words, [they are saying] meet me at the pornography store, and we’ll talk about Jesus,” Hagelin said.

“It’s so infected our youth pastors that I think we need a revival and revolution ….” she added. “If we’re ever going to be a different, holy people — if we’re ever going to be able to carry the cross of Christ effectively and be true witnesses for Him, it’s time for a revolution.”

Security Sanctions

While Hagelin and Kush agree that such a revolution must begin at home with pro-active parenting, this does not excuse social networking sites from taking the initiative to protect their users, specifically from pornography.

“Typically, the definition of pornographic pictures is such pictures that would cause a reasonable person to become offended,” Kush explained. “A lot of this has to do with what exactly it is suggesting. It’s entirely subjective.”

Therefore, content that many may consider offensive can be ruled by the site’s management to comply with its terms of service agreement. So there is little clarity in determining what is and is not pornographic. Even a modest sampling of the 80 million MySpace sites reveals images ranging from crude and profane graphics to photos of young drunken party-goers and females in sleazy poses.

However, MySpace is not without security. According to USA Today, “MySpace employs a staff of about 12 who do nothing but look at all 1.5 million images uploaded each day for inappropriate photos, including pornography.”

In addition, the site recently hired former federal prosecutor Hemanshu Nigam, director of consumer security outreach and child safe computing at the Microsoft Corporation, as its first chief security officer.

But Hagelin still believes more should be done. “If they’re going to make money off our youth and our families through MySpace, then they have a responsibility to make it family-friendly,” she said. “Get off the pornography. Get the suggestive pictures off [and the] vulgarity.”

Investor Ideology

“Corporations spend billions of dollars every year on advertising,” Hagelin wrote in Imprimis, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College. “Why? Because they know that media affects behavior …. For example, they are selling a ‘lifestyle’ to our children that robs them of their innocence and their best futures, and capitalizes on the natural raging hormones that mark the teen years.”

Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch is one of many who are investing millions in this marketing blitz. Murdoch is a shareholder, chairman and managing director of News Corporation, which owns Fox News Network, MySpace.com and numerous other media enterprises. In July 2005, Murdoch purchased Intermix Media, the parent company of MySpace, for $580 million.

At the time the deal was made, Murdoch said in a statement that was referred to by WorldNetDaily, “Intermix’s brands, such as MySpace.com, are some of the Web’s hottest properties and resonate with the same audiences that are most attracted to Fox’s news, and sports and entertainment offerings.”

But Hagelin begs to differ. “They should understand that the large audience of people who are tuning into Fox News and have made it a success are largely conservative families — a lot of people of faith,” she explained.

However, there is reason to question the depth of the conservative label attached to Murdoch and his entities. Based on findings from the Research Institute for Corporate Accountability, News Corporation offers same-sex domestic partner benefits to its employees as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender programming to its viewers.

While Murdoch and his media empire have no definite way of controlling online predators, Hagelin believes they have an obligation to the nation’s youth. “They need to reflect on what kind of America they want our kids growing up in and what kind of adults they are helping to raise,” she said. “Because they are helping to raise our kids today, they need to take personal responsibility for that.”

Whether they will — now, that’s a story yet to be concluded.

Postmodern Party Line for 80 Million: Porn, Predators, Peer Pressure … and No Parents. By Rebecca Grace.

“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”

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