- Category: Film
- Written by Tommy Geraci
Technology makes our lives easier on a daily basis and for some of us, we can barely remember life before Twitter, Facebook, texting, etc. Today's teens and tweens have never experienced a time when there weren't these sophisticated forms of communication (unless you count the brief moments of being grounded). Unfortunately, with new advancements come new dangers and new conversations that need to happen. Parenting is also made easier by these platforms (you can keep track of where your children are, get in touch with them in literally seconds, and even spy on them, not that anyone does that).
Along with the good, always comes the bad. Just as easily as mom and dad can reach their children, so can strangers and predators. But what happens when the predator is a child or tween himself/herself? How do you handle that? Imagine, if you will, your 11 year old daughter coming to you to tell you (and show you) a picture of a 11 year old boy's private parts that were sent to her via text. What do you say? What are you thinking? What course of action do you take?
For Ted Setla, his reaction includes reaching out to others by creating a film because that is what he does. I'm sure his first reaction was quite different but after the dust settled, Ted, like most parents, had to do more. More to ensure his daughter is safe and more to educate and involve others in the matter. The best way to find a solution is to combine forces.
We can all agree that cyber-bullying is a dangerous practice but do we really consider the effects of sexting on young people and even adults who are vulnerable already? Insecurity and inexperience can make you an easier target. In this case, Ted's daughter came to him months after the incident. I'm sure she was embarrassed, didn't want to get her friend or schoolmate in trouble, and probably didn't look forward to the conversation that would follow. But the conversations must happen so that young people don't grow up with distorted views of sexuality.
The bravery people seem to get when they are texting or on social media astounds me. People who wouldn't think of bullying someone in person or exposing themselves in public will do it via Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and texts.
Ted has enlisted his friends and filmmaking colleagues to create a film that they hope will spark a much needed conversation. When I was made aware of the project by my friend Louise Sattler, I immediately knew I wanted to be involved. We have to get comfortable with the idea of discussing this sort of thing because it isn't going away anytime soon. It seems with platforms like SnapChat, where the photos show up only for a brief time and then disappear, we are creating more environments for experimentation and these concepts are reaching children who are too young to truly understand what they are doing.
I can also go into stories of people in their 20's and 30's who have been burned by this sort of behavior but I'm sure we all know people who now have very distorted views of sexuality because of the way we now use technology to "flirt" or in many cases "bait" people.
I want to invite all of you to join us this WEDNESDAY, April 8th at 8PM/5PT for a Twitter chat with Ted Setla. Louise Sattler and I will be moderating the event and you can contribute by using the hashtag #TXTGenChat. Follow Ted at @Setla as well as @411Voices (Our generous hosts), Louise (@LouiseASL) and me (@teeco71). I really hope we can start a conversation that leads to solutions and that we can get together to support this film because it's something we need.
Martin Luther King Jr used to quote an unnamed minister and I really believe in this:
"We ain't what we ought to be and we ain't what we want to be and we ain't what we're going to be. But thank God, we ain't what we was"
By seeking knowledge, solutions, and sparking conversations, we move ourselves ahead as a society. The arts, entertainment, and film sometimes need to be catalysts in this process.
I would love for you to weigh in and feel free to comment here with your own experience and questions. Leave your Twitter handle too and we may include the question in the chat. Pass this invitation along to anyone you know who may be interested or benefit from it! I hope to see you all in the Twitter stream on Wednesday!