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TILT – Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology


Jean-Anne Sutherland


It’s Quick and It’s Easy I recently watched the ABC Family Movie Cyberbullying with my 13 year old daughter. Of course, triple and even quadruple media-tasking is normal for her cohort so it was neither unusual nor particularly distracting for her to keep one eye on Facebook throughout the movie. Parenthetically, she typically stows her laptop but watching a movie about a teenage girl’s experiences with a social networking site, while my teenage girl sat next to me, immersed in her social networking site, was too delightful an irony. Cyberbullying tells the story of Taylor, a teenage girl who is bullied online through “cliquesters,” the social networking site that, ahem, I am sure, was meant to bear no resemblance to Facebook. A series of events leads to Taylor’s cyber-lashing from peers in her school (a group of affluent “mean girls” in particular). As her mother pleads with her to take down her page, Taylor, much like an addict who just can’t stop, just keeps looking and posting. The ridicule and humiliation mount until Taylor tries to kill herself after posting an “I can’t take it anymore” goodbye to those peers. The mom, Kris, then reaches out to Mean Girl’s father, who merely lectures her on the specifics of “free 34

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speech.” She goes to the school principal who explains to Kris how tightly the school’s hands are tied in terms of what students do and say off of school property. Of course, what they do and say online is only murkier. She is then dismissed by a state legislator. It is not until Taylor and Kris take her story to a journalist, and their story is published, that they are heard by bureaucrats and lawmakers. A recent article noted that Facebook has surpassed email and even texting as the most dominant form of communication among young people. Apparently email is “so five minutes ago” to teens. When email entered our lives, many lamented the dying art of letter writing. Certainly, gone was the recognition of handwriting (how many of you can still picture your grandmother or father’s handwriting quirks?). Gone too was the time it took to physically write to someone, perhaps re-read it and then place the letter in the mail. We learned to write more quickly and send with frequency. With facebook as the primary mode of communication, we have another set of issues that make email look almost quaint. As you know, often teens gather in a “private” chat space and the brief, grammatically baffling one-liners appear at vampire speed (FYI, apparently vampires are really fast)! Of course, the speed is enhanced by the use of shorthand (e.g., gtg for “got to go,” L8R for “later”). Geez, who has time to write an entire word? And, who has time to

TILT Magazine (Issue 9)