This I Believe

January 18, 2010
By Anonymous

In our day and age, technology has become an essential part of American life. Almost everyone has a computer, telephone, cell phone, iPod or various other electronic gadgets. Many families often have several of these gadgets for each of their children, totaling a exorbitant sum of money. The positive side of having technology is almost immediate communication with anyone anywhere. Many business' are making everything they do online, like banking and commerce. Schools are also taking advantage of this technology savvy world we live in. Classes are taught about computers and many books, grading, lessons and attendance is held online. The real question is what are we giving up to support this new modern life style?

Looking around the class room, almost every student has a cell phone, most commonly with a texting plan. Teens are sending text messages at all hours of the day, from the minute they wake up, during school and even when they are supposed to be sleeping! Messages are mostly meaningless like common texting phrases of "lol", "hahaha", or "wtf". When teens have to give directions or make important plans, an attempt is made to do it by texting. Many times the plans are so long many text messages are needed, raising the cost of total texting bill. Most of the time teens cannot articulate what they are trying to say with texting slang, so messages are unclear and incomplete. Verbal communication is a thing of the past when it comes to communication among teens. When a teen is instructed to call someone, they get nervous and end up texting them instead of having a conversation or leaving a message on an answering machine. Many argue calls insinuate awkward pauses unlike texting. A simple answer to an awkward pause is to politely end the call.

Text messages deprive a person of emotion, so one cannot tell how a response should be taken. The popular emoticons ":)" (smile/happy) and "<3" (heart/love) do not give the same message one would get when talking to a person via phone and hearing their joys and well wishes. Sometimes text messages can be taken the wrong way, in a harsh manner. These texts lead to unnecessary drama and embarrassment among teens while the whole miscommunication could have been avoided if a simple phone call was made. Texting slang also weakens a person's spelling and grammar skills. To save characters words are shortened, for example "tm" meaning tomorrow, "2nite" meaning tonight and "wikid" for wicked, a common term used by Bostonians. Many do not know how to accurately spell without spell check, and immediately write slang on papers without a second thought. Even capital letters are becoming a thing of the past. Writing and speaking are two major forms of communication and without these, expression cannot be created. Verbal communication is a main part of the adult world, and as teenagers we should be practicing our communication skills so we can clearly represent ourselves in our later years.

Teens are often controlled by their technological lives, suffering withdrawal when power is down or their cell phone has been taken away due to behavioral issues or low grades. Teens find the instances to text nonstop, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, even when they are on the road. Sending a text message on average requires at least five to ten seconds concentrating on a small screen. When on the road only ten seconds is the difference between safe driving and an accident. Many crashes around teens are the result of a distraction in the car, like receiving or sending a message. Many young drivers do not come home alive due to car accidents from talking or texting. They not only put themselves in danger but the innocent people whom they are driving with. If a message needs to be answered pull over and do not take the risk of hurting yourself or your fellow motorists.

With the creation of technology the ability to share anything and everything has become much easier. A slang term called “sexting” is being used by the young population to share racy pictures of themselves to friends and complete strangers. A fact not realized by these young “sexters” is once a picture is taken and sent it can never be deleted. Sometimes the picture views go dormant for a while then surface again 10 or 15 years after the incident, costing the model jobs and other discrimination. With this new style of pornography nothing is kept secret leading to exposure, embarrassment and harassment. The harassment teens suffer due to "sexting" can even lead to suicide like Jessica Logan.

The image was blurred and the voice distorted, but the words spoken by a young Ohio woman are haunting. She had sent nude pictures of herself to a boyfriend. When they broke up, he sent them to other high school girls. The girls were harassing her, calling her a **** and a *****. She was miserable and depressed, afraid even to go to school. And now Jesse Logan was going on a Cincinnati television station to tell her story. Her purpose was simple: “I just want to make sure no one else will have to go through this again.” The interview was in May 2008. Two months later, Jessica Logan hanged herself in her bedroom. She was 18.

“She was vivacious. She was fun. She was artistic. She was compassionate. She was a good kid,” “It’s very, very difficult. She’s my only child,” Logan told Lauer. “I’m trying my best to get the message out there.”It is a growing problem that has resulted in child pornography charges being filed against some teens across the nation. But for Cynthia Logan, “sexting” is about more than possibly criminal activity: It’s about life and death. Last fall, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy surveyed teens and young adults about sexting — sending sexually charged material via cell phone text messages — or posting such materials online. The results revealed that 39 percent of teens are sending or posting sexually suggestive messages, and 48 percent reported receiving such messages. Jesse Logan’s mother said she never knew the full extent of her daughter’s anguish until it was too late. Cynthia Logan only learned there was a problem at all when she started getting daily letters from her daughter’s school reporting that the young woman was skipping school.“I only had snapshots, bits and pieces, until the very last semester of school,” Logan told Lauer.

She took away her daughter’s car and drove her to school herself, but Jesse still skipped classes. She told her mother there were pictures involved and that a group of younger girls who had received them were harassing her, calling her vicious names, even throwing objects at her. But she didn’t realize the full extent of her daughter’s despair.“She was being attacked and tortured,” Logan said.“When she would come to school, she would always hear, ‘Oh, that’s the girl who sent the picture. She’s just a *****,’ ” Jesse’s friend, Lauren Taylor, told NBC News.

Logan said that officials at Sycamore High School were aware of the harassment but did not take sufficient action to stop it. She said that a school official offered only to go to one of the girls who had the pictures and tell her to delete them from her phone and never speak to Jesse again. That girl was 16. Logan suggested talking to the parents of the girls who were bullying Jesse, but her daughter said that would only open her to even more ridicule.

Jesse had been talking about going to the University of Cincinnati to study graphic design. Her mother thought she was over the worst of the bullying. Then one of Jesse’s acquaintances committed suicide. Jesse went to the funeral. When she came home, she hanged herself.“I just had a scan of the room, her closet doors were open,” Logan told NBC News. “And I walked over into her room and saw her hanging. The cell phone was in the middle of the floor.”

Technology can be a great thing but it comes with a price. I feel technology is twofold. It enables us to stay in contact but also controls our lives. I believe verbal communication and in person socialization is key to developing strong individuals and future leaders. From personal experience I can see how the teenagers suffer from abuse due to technology. The story of Jesse Logan really touched me. She was an only child, like I am. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak her parents felt and the guilt they feel for not doing anything until it was too late. We need to become aware of the dangers the technological world poses to us. Much of this abuse could be avoided if technological communication was curtailed. Technology is bringing us down and we need to learn when to pull the plug, not letting it control our lives. So next time you pick up the phone to text someone, try a verbal call, it is more personal and makes you a stronger person. I believe verbal communication is the key to a better society.

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