I received some great comments from readers and they got me thinking.
The question is; how is social media changing our society and culture?
There is some thought that this man saw this as a prank and did not mean to sexually objectify the children. I wonder if this theory isn't worth examining. This is not to make an excuse for him. In fact, I find the notion that this could be true to be quite concerning.
Are we creating a society in which anything goes for a laugh or a good time?
I attended a trauma prevention conference as part of my job and one of the speakers spoke on websites that exist for people (mostly men and mostly late teens to early twenties) who do stupid things for kicks. One segment was on the practice of spraying aerosol body spray on the crotch of your pants and setting it on fire. Obviously you can see how this worked out for the kid. The problem is there is a whole underground culture of kids out there who do this very thing and other stupid acts.
I realize that we did dumb things when we were kids and many of us are likely lucky to have survived our teen years. Kids and young adults have probably been doing dangerous stunts since some idiot Neanderthal realized he could stand on a stone wheel and balance himself to impress the young ladies.
I wonder though if the availability of a world wide audience, the anonymity of the internet, and literally thousands of other people to give suggestions on what to do and how to do it is exacerbating the problem.
I wonder if we are blurring the lines between right and wrong, safe and unsafe, rational and irrational?
As I said earlier, we have always had idiots roaming the Earth. In the past they were generally isolated and could not share notes. We are now providing them a communication tool to push the limits of the extreme. Is this a good thing?
I have always given considerable credence to the theory that once an aberration becomes the new norm we then must develop new, and worse, aberrations.
Take homosexuality as a simple example. I don't have a real issue with it, I don't agree with it and think it is wrong, but I take a "leave me alone and I will leave you alone" approach to it. At one time homosexuality was actually considered deviant behavior, now it is essentially socially acceptable.
Now that we have accepted the behavior of homosexuality as the norm, the conversation is slowly turning to man-boy love. Obviously almost all of society is against the practice and it is considered deviant behavior. There are those though who argue in favor of legalizing the practice. Recently we had a national debate because Amazon.com was carrying a how-to guide for man-boy love. They were overwhelmed by protest and were forced to remove it. The reality is though that it was there. A national company felt comfortable selling it. Will I be writing a blog in 30 years that, while I don't agree with man-boy love, each to his own? (The answer is an emphatic "Hell no" btw). Will we instead be appalled at the new underground practice of sex with infants?
Sorry for the nearly pointless and disturbing digression. The point is, is this a new and concerning trend in society? Are we seeing a societal shift in which what we once considered to be in poor taste or even taboo will now be the new norm and there will be a race on to find the next, more thrilling and decadent thing?