The second life of social networks
In recent months seventeen teenagers have hanged themselves in the area around the small borough of Bridgend in South Wales, UK. Why they did it remains unanswered and is baffling the nation.
In America the phenomenon of high school kids shooting up their campuses, then turning the guns on themselves, probably comes from the same root cause.
The police say they were not all members of any web-based suicide cult, although a few of them may have used the chatrooms. They didn’t all know each other either, and didn’t constitute a group or gang. So what is happening here?
Bridgend is a rather nice area, surrounded by glorious countryside, including the Vale of Ogmore and Merthyr Mawr, a wild place of sand dunes and beaches. It’s also near to the upmarket Vale of Glamorgan, a wealthy patch of rolling, green hills and country pubs. There are many worse places to live.
They did all have one thing in common though. Like all modern teenagers they were immersed in social networking sites — Facebook, MySpace and Bebo. Their inner space was formed by the anarchistic conversations of mainly unknown “friends” made on these addictive sites. No settled discourse this, but a 24/7 babble of wildly differing opinions, rants and life objectives, generously sprinkled with bizarre fantasies incapable of fulfilment in the real world.
And there’s the crunch — “the real world”. It really is a second life on these sites, bearing little resemblance to the day to day concerns of older people. That, of course, is their attraction.
The sites’ main competitor is “the real world”, that space of dismal state schooling; urgent demands on climate change of which we are ingenuously presented as the main cause; the breakdown of our ethical system and its replacement with social Marxism (political correctness and obsessive equality) and the bureaucratic autism of the governing class.
The world they look out on is one of cynical politicians on the make, advertisements that make them crave objects they know they don’t really need, and an adult generation that has allowed chaos to reign. The idealism of youth is quickly spent.
Add to all that, mass immigration and the introduction of cruel medieval practices, gang culture, knife crime and drug-based gun law, and the Britain they live in no longer has the moral or physical authority to demand their loyalty.
Teenagers today like nothing better than to “get wrecked” — hopelessly drunk — most nights of the week. Without boundaries to make sense of their lives, or any compelling lodestar to guide them, modern youth sinks into the apparent benign world of social networking.
The outer world gives them nothing but information-overload characterized by countless pressure groups competing for their attention with contradictory messages and injunctions. Good parents get drowned out, as do decent teachers. Even the government is now just one voice among many, chopping and changing its empty slogans on a daily basis. Thought anarchy rules the lives of young people, an unpleasant environment for mental development to take place.
So, social networking they go. The problem is, it has a very thin actuality. Quickly they discover it hasn’t the substance to satisfy their need for experience and the challenges that promote growth of character and individuality. They are trapped in a no-man’s land between a wafer-thin second life and an unbearable jungle of squabbling claim and counter-claim in the world itself. No wonder many are taking their own lives.
Social networks can be dangerous places to be if you are immature and seeking experiences that should come from life itself.