Thursday, 21 June 2012

How sick is too sick?

I work with young people on a daily basis, and, unless you had a very sheltered upbringing, you will know that teenagers are often known for behaving 'rudely', or being obsessed with sex. By the end of my first English lesson with my plumbing group I had seen around 7 drawings of the male genitalia, because, that's what young boys do. They didn't draw them to be offensive, and they're actually a really nice group of lads. Most of my colleagues would agree this is pretty average behaviour. I am aware that my students have seen extreme videos, such as '2 girls 1 cup', involving two women doing disgusting things with feces. Even the sweetest girls I teach have seen these extreme videos, or can say incredibly crude things to each other.

To an extent I can understand this. When I was a teenager, I was curious and probably knew about some fetishes that are carried out by the more extreme members of society. Young people can access videos on the internet that would make even Paris Hilton blush (assuming she's not in it).

I can't help but wonder if pornography is giving young people a distorted view of sex. I can't know this for sure, as I don't broach this subject with my learners (it doesn't crop up in English or maths very often). I'm sure young men have always had crude conversations about the things they've heard of or seen in magazines, long before the internet existed, but pornography certainly wasn't as accessible as it is now. If this is the main place where they are gaining their information about a healthy sex life, teenagers may feel pressured to behave in a way that they're not altogether comfortable with. I have seen informative programmes on Channel 4 which look at this issue, and young females interviewed aspired to have breasts that could only be achieved by implants, and felt they were expected to 'perform' in the bedroom. This can't be a good thing!

Another area that worries me is how these young people may be interacting with strangers. I remember going on chat rooms when I was a teenager, and people trying to engage me in conversations about sex. Even more extreme, and visual is chatroulette. This is a website that pairs you up for a webcam conversation with a complete stranger. It has now become known for the amount of men who sit in front of the camera naked, pleasuring themselves. A number of my students have been on this website, and I find it disturbing that they would be confronted with a much older man touching himself, live. The website doesn't require any login and can be accessed in seconds. It's a shame, as it was designed to promote conversations with others from different backgrounds to allow people to learn about different people from different cultures.

I guess, for the majority of young people, these experiences are simply a strange experience not relating to their everyday life. I have always been fascinated by the strange, or abnormal behaviours of people. I have seen documentaries about people who are aroused by machines, or feed up their partners till they are practically immobile. By watching this, I wouldn't be tempted to act in this way, but I do love to see the weird things people do. 

Also, if we didn't allow every project that could be misused, like chatroulette, we would never be able to see when these ideas are used for something good. These videos were created using chatroulette, and are lovely examples of strangers connecting through a new medium, and enjoying themselves!

I love the bit with the guy on the toilet!

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