While we’ve already discussed the rise of cults and certain persons with the growth of Digital Media, a significant part of internet remains undiscovered. As Andrew Tate’s behaviour can often be described as the epitome of toxic masculinity and his actions borderline perversive (particularly in terms of younger women and his impact on them), I cannot help but remember the (somewhat) early days of internet, full of unsupervised access to everything and very minimal community guidelines regulating the digital sphere.
Many of us, perhaps particularly those whose parents were not yet familiar enough to draw certain boundaries, are rather familiar with sites and apps such as Omegle, Chatroulette or KIK and how, back in the day, said sites were filled with all – people wanting to talk, people seeking attention, and, for the most part, people seeking satisfaction through ignorance.
ASL – a term that, to many of us, means much more than American Sign Language. Age, Sex, Location – I, personally, can hardly remember how old I was when I first heard (or read) those words, yet, one thing remains clear – although I certainly wasn’t old enough, there was no way that anyone online could have known that. While now it is extremely obvious – there is no way that anyone could mistake a 12 year old girl for full grown adult, the shadow of ignorance and willingness to look through the obvious signs made it quite easy to pretend. However, this tale of lies and online misdemeanour neither begins nor ends with me – perhaps millions of people can relate to the dangers of unsupervised and unregulated internet access, whether it is due to predatory/grooming behavior on sites such as Omegle or the millions of cruel and perverted videos accessible to everyone through a simple google search.
While most of this happened in the early 2010s, it is almost impossible not to notice how, despite more strict internet guidelines and supervision, the predatory and grooming-like behaviour remains unavoidable. Perhaps not anymore on Chatroulette or KIK, but grown adults tend to sexualize young teenagers and children and the fetishization of childhood appears to be a rather common theme in the digital media. Whether its through TikTok, in which teenagers receive millions of comments from fully grown adult men, or any other public sites, the internet appears to create a plethora of opportunities for people to use and abuse the naivety and inexperience of the younger ones.
Thus, while many of us have turned out okay – perhaps with even better understanding of the dangers online and thicker skin, many of us didn’t. Such online behavior – particularly the grooming of young women and men – often results in traumatic experiences, insecurities, and false ideas of attraction (i.e. many young women seeking male validation in order to feel “pretty”). Hence, while the online world has brought a plethora of advantages – such as the ability to meet friends, have access to basically everything and improve certain skills, it also resulted in an ever bigger and more anonymous sphere filled with perverted men (and women) and misguided ideals.