Teens Reveal Too Much Online

As recently as a few years ago, Aftab said the profile of an online victim was a young woman who felt alone, didn’t have many friends and craved attention.

Then, in 2002, 13-year-old Christina Long of Danbury was strangled in a Danbury mall parking lot by a 26-year-old man she met on the internet. Long was a popular cheerleader, a good student and an altar girl. The profile went out the window.

Now, Aftab said, it’s no surprise that a wealthy state such as Connecticut is seeing a spate of problems. “This is a rich and upper-middle-class problem,” Aftab said. “They have too much time, too much technology and their parents aren’t around to keep an eye on them.” —Teens Reveal Too Much Online (Wired | AP)

I’ve had a fair share of student bloggers who aren’t thinking clearly about the consequences of writing something unintentionally revealing or deliberately offensive, but the real reason I’m blogging this is that very weird sentence, “The profile went out the window.”


I gather that the author was trying to say that particular profile was unusual or extreme, but I’m not sure how to relate the details (“a popular cheerleader, a good student and an altar girl”) with the description “out the window.” Perhaps the author intended that to be part of an extended metaphor that was introduced in an earlier paragraph that got edited or cut.

I’ve blogged before about the cultural value of shallow but deeply-linked social networks.

When I say “shallow” I don’t mean the people using it are shallow, but rather the value is in the links themselves. A blog requires writing and responding, and while a social network site can involve writing, part of the reason the system grows so quickly is that using the site means adding yourself to existing lists or creating lists for other people to sign on to. And, for all teenagers like telling the rest of the world that they all want to be independent and do their own thing, most teenagers spend a lot of time and money on the difficult task of conforming to the social expectations of their peer groups.