Sexting Selfies

The youth of today, some people declare, are narcissistic and obsessed with appearance and popularity.

The evidence for this is pretty clear. In her article in The Courier-Mail of 10 June 2013, “World of Y is made in their image” Karen Brooks declares today’s teens are “screenagers”, jockeying for fame and recognition from a bunch of “friends” on Facebook. They effectively turn themselves into a brand, she writes, updating that brand and marketing themselves constantly. Appearance, it seems, is all that matters, and getting your appearance out there is equally important.

There is, methinks, much reason in her sayings. She goes on to declare that the people responsible for this are the parents. And she is right, there, too. Coddling children, protecting them from harm and the need to make decisions, and, moreover, providing them with the technology to communicate 24/7, has a big part to play in all this.

I was discussing things with a teenager recently about the propensity for her generation to exhibit the minutiae of their lives online. One example we discussed was the habit some people have of taking a picture of what they are currently eating and posting it as a picture on Facebook. Do I really want to see that? Really? So you enjoyed the meal. Great. But you took a picture of it before you ate it, so how did you know it was going to be so fantastic that everyone needed to see what it was? Oh, I see, you just thought we might be interested. Sorry, no.


Even my Facebook page, which has an appropriate proportion of adults as friends, is subject to this kind of post.

And selfies. Let me talk about selfies. You know what they are, those pictures taken with a phone camera, usually looking in a mirror or held at arm’s length so a number of friends can cram their heads together, mouths open and say “Look at us! We’re important!” Then the subject of the pic posts it on their social network.

No harm in that, really. Not unless they are in their underwear or doing something inappropriate. But I just don’t really want to see it. I don’t care you are, I don’t care what you’re wearing. Well, not always. Depends on who is in the underwear. I must confess I did take a selfie once, and sent it to someone, but it was just for them and not for posting for the whole world to see. I trusted the person I sent it to not to send it on, and they haven’t so far. Besides, you couldn’t see my face. Well and good.

So, you ask, if I am guilty of posting a selfie, why should I criticise those who do?

Well, for a start, as I said, it was only for private consumption, not general viewing. I got one back from them, and it remains private in my files. For another thing, it’s probably not something teenagers should be doing. A girl posts a picture of herself in a rude pose or wearing (or not) something alluring, and sends it to her current squeeze. The boyfriend may get a thrill out of it, but boys will be boys, and he can post that on to whoever he likes. And probably does.

So the obsessed Me Generation (or the “Millenials” as Joel Stern calls them), are a product of our desire to invent machines that can keep us in constant, if unnecessary, communication with everyone all the time, and our desire to coddle and protect the young. Not much we can do about it, I expect.

Except that we can, of course, try to cut down on texting, and sexting, and twittering, and social media-ing. I was waiting for a bus the other night in the city at peak hour. Of the forty-odd people (or forty odd people, including me) only three, including myself, were not using their phones or iPads for various purposes. I guess they felt the need to text someone urgently, or check their emails, or watch the news or the sports, or see what someone had for lunch, or see if anyone liked what they had for lunch. Nothing, I maintain, that couldn’t wait until they got home.
It wasn’t just the screenagers doing this. There were adults, too.

It’s a bit much, really.
So don’t send me a selfie. Not unless you have a good body. Then, please.

It’s not what kids do.

Another party advertised on Facebook got out of control here in Brisbane on the weekend.

Two police officers were injured and a City Council bus damaged as idiots decided they didn’t like the police closing their party down. Poor little darlings. Apparently there had been complaints from the neighbours about noise from the party and reports of fighting in the streets. So the police decided to attend and told them to shut it down. Most of the partygoers – some as young as 11 – left peacefully. Some stayed and proceeded to break other people’s property and ended up injuring two police officers.


Following this, the host of the party, 17 year old Jordan Fuller, made one of the great stupid comments of the day: “It’s what kids do.”


No, Jordan, it isn’t what decent, civilised kids do. It’s what stupid thugs who can’t get their own way do.

So your party was closed down? That is no excuse to hurt other people. Is your party more important, more precious, than the health of two police officers? Is it worth more than the bus? I don’t think so.

Just because other people (the neighbours – remember them, Jordan?) didn’t like what you were doing is no reason to throw bricks at someone. It really isn’t.

You are not the centre of the universe, and we do not revolve around you.

The party was advertised on Facebook, another brilliant planning idea in the mind – if I may use that term – of Jordan Fuller. There have been a number of parties that have spiralled out of control here in Brisbane lately after being advertised on Facebook. I’m not blaming Facebook here, just the mentality of people who don’t have enough friends they have to call on anyone who is a friend of a friend of a friend.

People who advertise their parties on Facebook must be wanting trouble. They cannot be ignorant to the recommendations of those in authority who say don’t do it. They must have seen reports (or even perhaps attended) parties of a similar nature and decided to “go for it”.

Hopefully, as indicated in the news article, people will be charged over this and Jordan gets the bill. He has an 18th birthday party in a year’s time. God help us.

Bullying the Queen Street Gunman

We had some excitement here in Brisbane the other day. The Queen Street Mall (the heart of the city) was evacuated on Friday when a gunman appeared and looked about to shoot himself.

The man was Lee Matthew Hillier, and he was disturbed because a court had denied him access to his children, which was what drove him to the extreme measure of drawing a gun in Queen Street.

The Mall was cleared and the police did a fantastic job in calming him down and eventually capturing him. No one was injured (apart from the gunman). No one died. No one panicked. A good result from a situation that could have been a tragedy.

The thing is that mere hours later, this picture appeared on my Facbook page:


It’s the gunman, surrounded by police, both uniformed and plain clothed. Some “wit” (or is that half-wit) has inserted a speech bubble that has two major qualities about it:

1) It is not in the least bit funny;
2) It is making fun of a man who is seriously disturbed emotionally.

The speech bubble is, I believe, based on the Half-wit’s belief that the man was looking for someone. He wasn’t.

My complaint is that Half-wit, and the people who liked his link, are laughing at a man who needed help, not mockery. Sure, he could have hurt someone, but he was apparently asking the police to shoot him and held the gun to his own head for a long time. That leads me to believe that harming someone else was not his intention. If he had wanted to shoot someone, he had plenty of opportunity, and he didn’t do it.

So, why laugh at him? Are we that cruel, that heartless, that we can’t see a call for help when it’s there? The police acted correctly. They acted bravely. They did exactly the right thing. And some Half-wit comes along and thinks he’s the funniest guy in the universe.

This is bullying. What’s worse, it is cyber-bullying, where potentially millions of people can see the post, and where the victim has no chance to defend himself.

I personally hope that Lee Hillier gets the help he needs. I have  pity and sympathy for him, not derision and mockery. Laughing at someone who needs help is a cowardly act.