In an article published on January 26th in the New York Times, Stephanie Clifford discusses a new campaign put out by the Advertising Council to address a growing problem: harassment via multimedia between teenagers who are dating.
What this means is that there is a dysfunction that is creeping into young relationships that the various media seems to exacerbate. A teenage boy may get hounded via a flood of text messages from his girlfriend wanting to know where he is and what he’s doing at all times. A teenage girl may have her social network profile broken into by her suspicious boyfriend, invading her privacy. And an even more alarming situation is where one of the partners is pressuring the other to send racy pictures, against their will taken with the camera on their always accessible phone.
This has taken so many people by surprise that an entire website has been crafted. But it’s not your typical website, where all it does is provide one-sided PSAs that instruct the audience how to handle or deal with an issue. Instead, in a way that validates the use of media technologies, it engages the very youth who would seek counsel on the harassment problem by inviting them to create their own PSAs and videos addressing it.
Once again, I’m blown away by the use of media to democratize the solution to a problem. Instead of insisting that it is the technologies themselves, this incredible website is demonstrating that in order to get a hold of difficult situations that have arisen with new, digital media we need to have a dialog about them (and what better way than to have that conversation using the media themselves).
These matters are not new problems. There has been peer pressure, lack of trust and insecurity in relationships since humanity began. But what we’re seeing is that we can use new media to address problems – instantly, as soon as they are created. We need to use media instead of them just using us. And we need a basic understanding and education on media in order to be on the offensive.