Drama & Trauma: Texting Can Cause Both

By Lizzy Sebuck

Text-slang and your education isn’t the only combination that might not be a match made in heaven – combining texting with other aspects of your life can be dangerous too. I know every time I pick up my ma for a ride in the Crown Vic she is constantly slapping at my hands for me to put down my iPhone and keep my eyes on the road. We’ve come to find that texting and text-slang can do more than damage your grade in English classes, it can actually cause massive trauma to not only your social life, and also be physically damaging. The combination of texting and driving has become such a serious issue that state governments are altering some of their rules of the road as people pay less attention to the traffic ahead of them and more to their Twitter feed. Those who engage in texting while driving are not only a hazard to themselves, but a threat to the unsuspecting drivers around them.

The trouble with texting is not restricted to the road, but often occurs in every day conversations amongst many teenagers as well. Invasions of privacy, sexting, bullying, and text-abuse have become a reality with the teenage use of texting. Text-abuse is a harmful way to bully because many teens keep it to themselves. Harassing someone via text is very different than bullying in the hallway. Harboring negative emotions caused by abuse has lead to instances of teen suicide in the U.S., a growing result of text-abuse.  In recent years there have been numerous social media campaigns urging youth to put down their tech-savvy phones and use caution when utilizing instant messaging technology (but don’t think you’re out of the doghouse either, Gramps). Today at Occam’s Taser we’re piggybacking on these campaigns to let you know the importance of their missions. A summary? Wise up young fools.

Text abuse has become a huge issue amongst teens in recent years. In an effort to inform the youth about the harmful effects of their words (in a digital form or not) MTV’s A Thin Line campaigns on sexting and text- bullying has been backed by celebs such as Buffy’s Michelle Tratchenberg and even Jersey Shore’s Vinny Guadagnino speaking out on these issues. With the development of more expedient instant messaging capabilities, humans can communicate with one another in a way that previous generations could not imagine. This new technology opens up a million possibilities for danger. Although students try to avoid bullies in the hallways, they won’t be able to escape this new medium which could compromise privacy with one tap on the share button. The creators of A Thin Line campaign declare their mission statement as follows:

“A Thin Line campaign was developed to empower you to identify, respond to, and stop  the spread of digital abuse in your life and amongst your peers. The campaign is built on the understanding that there’s a “thin line” between what may begin as a harmless joke and something that could end up having a serious impact on you or someone else.”

Their infamous commercials generated buzz within the teen scene when they started to screen in between popular MTV programming. These commercials broadcast images of what could happen to bullies if caught in harassment, or furthermore the harmful mental toll a person who is bullied experiences. Though somewhat outlandish, their commercials make a strong point; text abuse can be devastating for both parties involved.

This campaign not only covers bullying though, the A Thin Line campaign educates its audience on the dangers of sexting and spying through the digital screen as well. Teens have found sexting to be a thrilling way to get their crush to notice them, but it certainly doesn’t reflect too well on their image after the damage is done. The Sexting campaign informs its audience on the harsh facts, such as  “more than 50% of those who shared a sext have shared it with multiple people.” One risque picture or raunchy text meant for one person can quickly spread to the entire school with the click of a button. A Thin Line urges teens not to feel pressure to sext and reminds them that even if the receiver of a sext doesn’t share it with the whole class, that person will now think the sext-er will compromise themselves to send dirty texts anytime, or with anyone. Not the best look for a teen just trying to survive high school. In their Spying campaign, A Thin Line cites that “over 25% of young people say their BF/GF have read their texts without permission.” Going through someone elses phone history leads to nothing but negative consequences. Dating or not, when the other party discovers that their privacy has been invaded trust no longer exists and the relationship is compromised. What if the phone owner isn’t guilty of any looming suspicions?  The revelation that trust, or furthermore respect, is not a priority in the relationship will unravel the bond of that friendship.

A Thin Line lets audiences know that (watch out hackers) even if something incriminating to the relationship is found through snooping, calling out your partner on their actions may land YOU in trouble.  Sneaky acquaintances risk the loss of Facebook account access when reported to the site based off of their privacy policy, and phone invasions of privacy can even result in lawsuit! The goal behind the A Thin Line campaign is to let those involved know what could happen and furthermore, how to draw their line and put an end to textual-abuse such as sexting and spying.

Oh, Oprah. Your hypnotizing ways of doing things always seem so right, and copying you makes me feel like I too am doing good for society, like signing a pledge to not text and drive.  Oprah not only made a huge impact on American youth, but on parents who are naive to the text generation as well. Her No Phone Zone Campaign asked drivers to sign a pledge to swear to never text and drive at the same time, citing that 16 people a day die from texting-and-driving related accidents. The No Phone Zone campaign works to prevent the senseless deaths that result from reckless drivers who text and make calls while driving. As a nonprofit organization, the No Phone Zone campaign uses a newsletter, stories, and updates of new state laws regarding phone use to educate audiences on the dangers of phone use and driving. Oprah drew awareness to her program through a daily reference to it on her wildly popular talk show The Oprah Show, as well as asking each audience member in attendance to sign the pledge before taking their seat. Look at that, now Oprah’s gonna go save your life. At least Oprah kept it mostly PG rated, this PSA from the UK made headlines with how graphic it is. Gory? Yes. But it sure as hell makes the point.

If the gospel of Oprah wasn’t enough to bring awareness to the issue, a recent celebrity death drew much media attention to the risk of texting-and-driving. Celebrity Plastic Surgeon Dr. Frank Ryan (most famously known for performing 10 surgeries on Heidi Montag in 1 day) was allegedly tweeting from his cell phone as he was driving around California when he accidentally drove his car off of a cliff. You read right, drove his car off of a cliff. Celebrities such as Janice Dickinson, Gary Busey, and Lisa Rinna who knew and had work done by Dr.Ryan gathered at a candle light vigil after he died and spoke to the media about the tragedy and the unnecessary death of their friend, thus igniting a fire within entertainment nightly television to urge their audience to put the phone down. The following picture is the last thing Dr.Ryan tweeted before he died.

Your adorable Twitpic may not be worth the risk.

Texting can be more dangerous than you think. Text abuse such as sexting, bullying, or spying can lead to depression and death amongst teenagers, who are the primary users of text messaging devices, but just about every age group can be impacted by this harassment. The least significant negative outcome of text-abuse may result is a loss of credibility and the destruction of a once-spotless image. So please use some morals and ethics when texting. When driving, you can worry about changing your Facebook status from “0MG T0T4LLY 4L!\/3!!!” to “UGH ded “ at some other time, keep your eyes on the road.  So if you’re gonna text, try it out while being grammatically correct, have some respect, and keep your hands on the wheel and off your phone (thanks, ma).

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