The Technological Witch Hunt

Originally Posted by Onegai:

RioterBurningPC

Recently a piece of “Investigative Journalism” was screened on South African television as well as a newspaper article that followed a few days later, both of which blamed the Java Application “Mxit” for the disappearance of a young girl. This was the proverbial “last straw” for me.

It seems common perception among the ignorant and uninformed that things like the internet, chat sites and Mxit are to blame for all the atrocities of the world and this is not just germane to South Africa but a global problem. This is nothing more than a technological witch hunt. I would just like to clear some things up as somebody who is actually informed.

As far as the dangers of Mxit are concerned, there are none. Mxit is one of the safest chat applications out there due to the fact that it is not a chat room*. The only people you can chat to on Mxit are either people who you have invited or people whose invitations you have accepted. Mxit does not give out personal information either. Therefore nobody can invite you unless they know your number and even then, you still need to accept their invitation to begin chatting. In other words, the responsibility falls on the user not to accept invitations from people they don’t know. It is no different than if a stranger approached you in a mall. Therefore we cannot blame the technology; only the user.

*Just to clarify, yes Mxit does have chat rooms available but it is a separate thing altogether and as far as I know, it’s a paid for service. This is the same way Google itself is not an E-mail application. G-mail is a Google product; it’s not actually Google.

Now the same goes for the internet. There is plenty of restrictive software out there that can control what content can and cannot be viewed. In this regard, the internet is actually an extremely useful learning tool. As for chat sites; once again the responsibility falls upon the user to act responsibly. If I went to a social gathering place like the beach and got chatting with a stranger and then ended up in tiny pieces three days later, would people blame the beach?

Apart from user responsibility, there is also parental responsibility. If a parent is concerned for their child’s safety as far as porn sites and chat sites go, why not setup a password and only allow him/her internet access when you are around to oversee it? Surely it is a parent’s responsibility to monitor young children. You would not leave your child alone in the park at night, so why leave them alone on the internet?

Cellular phone advancement has presented parents with a huge problem. Since most modern phones have internet access these days it is hard to monitor the content your children view. However, the question here is a two-part one. Firstly, if your child is of an age of reason, doesn’t the responsibility fall on them to monitor themselves? Secondly, if your child is not of the age of reason, WHAT THE FSUCK is he/she doing with a fancy cellphone? An old, primitive one without internet access will do fine (Although I don’t think kids that young should be allowed any form of cellphone but that’s just my personal feeling).

Unfortunately, there is little a parent can do in the end to prevent their children viewing porn because he/she still has friends at school who do have access to those materials. But the internet has not suddenly made this all possible. Before the advent of this communication tool, kids were still looking at porn and still making stupid decisions about who their social groups were. Back then it was VHS and magazines for porn and concerts, the park and clubs for falling in with the wrong crowd.

So to all those self-righteous, anally-retentive folks out there I hope this has been a lesson of sorts. I know it won’t change anybody’s mind and any advancement in technology will continue to be scorned because there are still plenty of people with tunnel vision out there. The people to whom I refer are most likely reading this article right now and going “but…” and unfortunately no matter how much evidence is against them, they’ll argue because their minds are set in stone. In fact I can guarantee that a few pedantic idiots who’ve stumbled across this article are printing it out this very minute with the intention of circling things in red pen and scribbling comments down the margin for them to bring up at the next PTA meeting.

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