Remember the old days of television when at 10:00 p.m. a commentator's voice would ask, "It's 10:00 o'clock, do you know where your children are?" Today I would amend that question to ask, "Do you know what your children do online?" And quite frankly, I think most of us would be shocked. Not just by the rampant sexual activity by juveniles, (and anonymous sexting still creeps me out, by the way, don't perverts do things like that in airports and bus stations?) but by the horrible and mean things that are frequently said. Online insults and bullying are rampant.
When I started playing Vampires Live and Zombies Live, I did so for two reasons. One, to find out what my ex-husband found so compelling about these sorts of games, and to do some practical field research for my upcoming vampire novel. I wanted to know what sorts of abilities and attitudes modern day vampires would have. The ancient ones took a much longer, more in-depth research process into the Greek and Nordic Bronze Ages, and the Roman Empire. Quite frankly, some modern teens have Ancient Roman tastes. Between the weird sex, rampant rudeness and disrespect, constant killing threats, and degradation of language, it seems that our moral infrastructure has truly crumbled into barbarism, at least among the younger generations.
Please take a look at the screenshots. They're fuzzy, and I apologize for that, but they should still be readable. There is a player who calls himself "The Terrorist," who goes around threatening dozens, perhaps hundreds of other players, with death and constant attacks. These games have a "hit list," where you can sign other players up to be killed any random player, and The Terrorist does this around the clock, as a form of harassment, and then threatens further attacks if the players complain. He runs multiple characters, I can tell by the poor grammar and atrocious arrogance. This behavior is more than obnoxious, it's illegal. The Patriot Act is very clear about not going around calling yourself a terrorist and threatening people. No reasonable, sane adult would do that. Can you imagine the result to your family, career, and reputation if some FBI agent were to take a good look at those screen shots? Therefore, we can probably assume that the player responsible is none of those things. What he is more than likely is a high school or college student who enjoys bullying others and gets a rare, heady feeling of power from it. Such behavior is reprehensible, and should be punished. Several players have banded together to ban him from the games, but the Storm 8 company seems quite indulgent of bullies. Many people, in fact, are indulgent of bullies, and make excuses for their behavior. "Oh," they say, "It's just some kid." Okay, it's just some kid, but the behavior is intolerable, and that behavior which you accept you will get a lot more of. All behavior is an expression of an attitude. One of the great cant phrases of our time is "troubled youths." Many of these young hoodlums are having the time of their lives making trouble for other people. But mercy to the guilty is cruelty to the innocent. And yet there are those who still make excuses, or worse yet, find some "syndrome," to blame it on. There was a godawful young woman in some of my Computer Information Systems classes who took rudeness to a whole new level; inappropriately arguing with the instructor, standing up and stomping out, declaring what she would and would not do; and that's just the easy to describe stuff. She described herself as having a "learning disability," and so it "wasn't her fault." I've seen that same behavior before, and the swift retributions that come with it; which normally causes the person to stop behaving like an ass. However, when there are no consequences, there is no incentive to stop misbehaving. I have observed other people with this same problem, who are often described as having "Asperger's Syndrome, and so that's why he acts like that..." People wonder about the dramatic, incremental increase in Asperger's and Oppositional Defiance Disorder kids in the past decade. Maybe they're just acting in real life the way they normally act online, with no consequences. And now they've learned that they can get away with it, and indeed, are pandered to because of it. It's a sad road down to social anarchy and raw barbarism. Cyberbullying and ordinary bullying rules and laws need to have a lot more teeth in them. What behavior you reward, you will get a lot more of.
If for some reason you would like to play any of these games, they can be found at the App Store for your phone, or under Games on Facebook.
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