This weekend, the gay scene in Second Life, as just about everyone who follows this blog knows, is going to center on the terrible epidemic of teen bullycides (lets stop calling it suicides please, these deaths are murders one way or the other), most notably confronting LGBT teens who are most at risk. "Be a Warrior for Jamie" is planned for this Saturday and Sunday.
I was thinking -- how guilty is social media, and Facebook in particular, in providing the platform for these bullycides to occur?
Just this past week, my mother's close friend told her that her 16 year old grandson "came out" on Facebook without telling his family beforehand -- which found out, along with the entire freshman class and most of his community it seems in south Florida. But South Florida hardly leads the nation in social acceptance of gay teens. This boy is setting himself up as a target by doing this, and his family is petrified that he could become a victim.
Is this wise? Granted, the boy has nerve in coming out publicly with realization that he is gay. And like most teens he was very afraid to tell his family. Teens have limited judgement and tend to be compulsive. He probably sat up one night, did not plan his coming out, but decided that he could not longer hide what he was and posted to Facebook.
He should have discussed this with this parents, or at least some adult first. And one cannot blame Facebook for not imposing censorship, actually such activity would be nearly impossible to supervise.
But is the phenomenon of Facebook to blame? I have come to the conclusion that it is. But aside from imposing censorship, I am not sure what can be done. Until society progresses to the point of completely acceptance of homosexuality as normal, which is a long time away in places such as Florida, LGBT teen suicides will continue. This is why the setting up of outreach centers in places such as Second Life, and other places in Cyberspace that teens gather, is important. And if raising awareness of this saves just one single life, it is worth the effort.
-- Eddi Haskell