The Internet and smartphones have opened up a world that was unimaginable 10 years ago.
Today, using Skype we can video chat for free with people on the other side of the globe. With our cellphones we can take pictures and videos and send them anywhere we want in seconds.
But a recent event in Astoria Park has shown that this technology is being misused for ugly purposes. Five suspects were arrested in the brutal mob beating of two 14-year-old girls in the park.
Videos of the beating posted online are disturbing. They show the girls being punched and kicked while a crowd of other teenagers watch.
There are sites set up on the Internet where these types of assaults are posted on a regular basis as a form of entertainment.
Some speculate that the beatings are staged so the attackers will get their moment of fame. The mob is aware that its brutality is being recorded.
Ironically, the police have used the videos to make arrests. City Councilman Peter Vallone said “as pathetic as it is that people think they need to post these videos, as a prosecutor I can tell you it is extremely helpful to us.”
Nina Kunicki, the mother of one of the victims, said her daughter suffered a fractured nose and multiple bruises in the attack.
“They could have killed my daughter,” she said.
Is this the 21st-century “Clockwork Orange?” How is it possible that teenagers can be indifferent to and even enjoy the vicious beating of two young girls? Why are websites turning these videos into entertainment?
Ask students grafted on to their cellphones and they will tell you that these sites exist, although they will probably protest that they don’t visit them.
The smartphones capable of recording and posting this trash cost hundreds of dollars in addition to monthly charges.
In addition, phones are being used in a form of high-tech bullying where videos are drafted to humiliate teenage girls. That humiliation can be worse that a beating. Last year a video resulted in a teenage girl jumping in front of a train.
We don’t know what the answer is to this cellphone cruelty, but it’s pretty clear the new technology has created a monster.