I was reading an interesting article in Rolling Stones Magaziene recently, to which I found an article entitled “The Most Hated Girl on the Internet.” Interesed I turned to the page and found a heart breaking story about a girl who’s online alias was Kiki Kannibal, a young 14 year-old girl who’s life had gone into a downward spiral since her internet excursion. Enduring rape, death threats, home vandalism, invasion, stalkers and continuing to do so since it began (now she is 18). Living in fear, threat assessment has become a part of her daily life as she is continually having to file police reports for both her sake and her family.
Having been bullied in school, her intent had been to just start a blog so as to seek some kind of acceptance. In desperation she tried to seek out a new identity and started turning to the “scene kid” label only to get beaten up continually. Apparently her school had done very little to assist in her situation. Her parents pulled her out and began to homeschool her because of how bad things got. Because she was so lonely at home she turned to Myspace to help her maintain friends. After that things began to go down hill. To read the article in full you can find it here: http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/kiki-kannibal-the-girl-who-played-with-fire-20110415
While reading the article I came across a quote I found interesting and was very glad that the author had inserted:“She had yet to understand what a lot of us don’t comprehend: that our virtual lives can take on their own momentum, rippling out of outward with real life consequences we can neither predict nor control.” Later in the article as she began to note how popular she had become because of her creative and confident “cool kid” look she had started to accumulate many friend requests. “I didn’t see it as real people, more like a number.” she commented in the article. Stories like these break my heart continually, and they often get over looked unfortunately. You don’t often hear of online sensations unless you’re plugged into the internet at all time, and the worst of it is, it’s usually teens and children who are targeted for their actions. Predators, immaturity of internet viewers, and even the occasional psychopath are all online, and the worst of all is parents don’t take good enough strides to keep their children safe. No one is as safe as they think they are online.
Some would say that it’s poor parenting that causes things like this to happen. In the situation of Kiki, her parents were not bad parents, but simply uninformed and in all honesty oblivious to the trends of online media, and the situations it was putting their daughter in. Letting her see people she had met online, and even under supervision, parents can’t help the things that go on online. They aren’t aware of the messages and plans kids have with those they interact with online. The biggest problem with allowing minors online, is they are not at a point where they begin to understand how much is attached to their virtual personas, and don’t understand the dangers that technology can really present. Hackers and other techno-savvy individuals can find many ways to reveal “anonymous identity” of others. In fact it’s almost a walk in the park if you know what you’re doing. The whole issue is kids just don’t really know what they’re doing when it comes to online use. That is why it is so important for parents to monitor their kids online media despite what their kids want. Teens may be hard to deal with during their teen years, but they are not impossible, and in the end parents cannot stop parenting just because the kid is difficult or unable to find what they want in their family.
Lack of education is the prime cause of internet dramas like this, but so is emotional immaturity. People want to be able to be accepted and identified with, but instead of turing to the safety of family, they turn to something they suppose has a bit more anonymity and that can reach their peers more quickly.In the situation of Kiki, she was just another hurt kid looking for some love and attention in the wrong place. Unfortunately the internet is not filtered, anyone can be who they want, and pretend to be a totally different person. Another issue is kids don’t know what information not to put on the internet, and parents don’t know how to stop them when they are not involved in their kid’s online life. The best remedy? Get informed. Look at your kids profiles. Teens shouldn’t add anyone they do not know to their personal profile AND parent should know that person too before you add them. It’s just common sense, and unfortunately a very lost one in our digital age despite the education most kids are getting. We need to get some more Netiquette up in here people ( visit:http://www.livinginternet.com/i/ia_nq.htm)!
The ending of the article was probably the saddest part of the story. The paragraph states:
“For all Kiki’s digital exposure, she feels no one knows the real Kiki…..Her online life has become and endless, soul-sucking performance. And yet, seeing no other option, she continues onward, a child of the digital age, programmed to look only toward the future, still optimistic, somehow, about what she’ll find there.”
Unfortunately that is what many kids in the digital age think. If they’re disconnected they’ll be forgotten. I suppose it may be true in this day and age. But, there is nothing more wonderful in both the world of teens and adults than having lasting and genuine personal face to face relationships. Life feels empty without it and the case of Kiki proves that.