Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hashtag Watch Your Mouth

Last night at my son's urging, I watched an unforgettable episode of the haunting British TV series Black Mirror. Now in its third season, it presents contemporary Twilight Zone-ish stories related to the techie paranoia creeping into our daily lives. At ninety minutes running time, the movie-length drama, "Hated in the Nation," foretells a frightening future, one just around the corner from right now, wherein social media has surpassed all other forms of relationships. It's a cautionary tale that begs close viewing by anyone with a digital device, especially young people whose lives are increasingly spent Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming and who knows what else, seeking validation from their peers instead of themselves. All too often what they find is mockery and hate.

It would be nice if what happens online stayed online, but it doesn't. Imagine if all those hideously ugly threats people post about other people, often total strangers, came true. What if typing the words "I hope you die" had the power to actually kill someone?  Sadly, we're already not that far removed. Suicide is the Number 3 killer of teens in the U.S., with more than a few of them ending their young lives because of online bullying.

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