Recently I came across a news report about one Alexandra Wallace. If you have not already heard, Ms. Wallace was a student at UCLA who authored a video that she then posted on the Internet. This video was what can only be called a diatribe against Asian students who annoyed Ms. Wallace by talking loudly on cellular phones in the school library. As is the fashion of the day, the video went “viral,” and now Ms. Wallace is the at the center of a controversy involving free speech, racism and the college administration’s responsibility to provide a safe environment for students. I’m not going to discuss whether Ms. Wallace was right or wrong in doing what she did, because I think we are missing a much bigger, more alarming, issue.
With the dawn of the Internet age came information sharing on a global scale and the creation of a much smaller world society. Unfortunately, as with most advancements, along with the benefits came a darker, more sinister side. You frequently hear it said that once something hits the net, it’s “out there forever.” This is true without a doubt, and therein lies a hidden danger. The permanence of media on the web means that an entire generation of young people no longer has the luxury of making the same youthful mistakes that generations of youth before them made and recovered from. Our society is, quite literally, destroying childhood for the youth of today. One of the major factors contributing to this trend is the ease of producing and disseminating homemade video.