Callous Behavior

While smartphones and other electronic devices are so convenient to our lives, it’s incredible so many young people are unaware of the degree to which they have been dehumanized by the Web.

They have almost no concept of the consequences they will suffer for their immersion in what they perceive to be a virtual world.

As an example, in the early morning hours of Oct. 13, after a night of heavy drinking, two students at Ohio University performed a sex act in public at a downtown business near campus. Soon a crowd – perhaps also in an inebriated state – gathered and began filming the event with their camera phones.

Predictably, within minutes, much of this video was uploaded to Facebook and other Internet sites.

After the postings and the furor it caused, the female participant claimed she was a victim of sexual assault. However, a grand jury looking into the incident this week refused to indict the male student.

This incident – from the couple’s drunken decision to have sex in a public place to the numerous witnesses who stood by filming the incident and then rushed to post on social media sites – does not say much good about where we are as a society.

Athens police Chief Tom Pyle called the episode “despicable.” Despicable does not quite cover it.

Such callous behavior is disgusting, indecent and deeply disturbing. Parents and teachers must understand young people simply do not possess the healthy respect they need for technology and the Internet because it has always been part of their world.

The line between entertainment and reality is so blurred for them that they have no idea the damage they can do to themselves and others with a few keystrokes or swipes. Other side effects of the Internet posting of the sexual escapade were the spread of rumors and the misindentification of another student as the female involved.

It is not enough anymore to talk to kids about sex, drugs, alcohol. There are other calamaties, including bullying and other peer pressures. Such problems are magnified by the Internet and the numbness it creates for its users.

Education at home and in the classroom is sorely needed if we hope to help this generation live safely and decently.

The grand jury may not have returned any indictments, but the whole thing is an indictment of where the morals of our society are heading.