Suzanne Fields

Revolutions are always unpredictable, depending on the way always unpredictable people adapt to them. That's true of high-tech revolutions as well as revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and a lot of other places. Humans are curious creatures.

The revolution in communications, for example, for all of its benign access -- and success -- comes with social consequences that continue to surprise and occasionally alarm. Nothing seemed simpler for increasing opportunities for adults to stay in touch with their children's comings and goings than the cell phone. The cell phone that seems to grow out of the ears on every teenager's head and allows them to reach out to their friends seemed harmless enough. At first.

But the tiny instrument, so neutral in its processing power, can wreak havoc in the lives of the young when naive, inexperienced or vengeful adolescents use their cell phones for less-than-savory purposes. The power of this tiny tool, you might say, lies in the hands of the holder. Cell phones, like guns, don't hurt people, but the people using them sure do, and can make a terrible mess of things.

So it happened with Margarite, a sensitive adolescent who, at the tender age of 14, finds herself the protagonist of a front-page story in The New York Times because she took a picture of herself nude with a _cell phone camera and sent it to her boyfriend. She became the center of a perfect storm of adolescent angst in the electronic age.

Margarite's tale reads like a bad but believable teenage novel: Innocent young girl longing for love and appreciation sends her boyfriend a cell-phone photo she took while standing naked in the bathroom. We don't learn (but we can imagine) how her boyfriend responded to the full-length full-frontal nude photograph, but we do know that when he broke up with Margarite, he sent it to another girl who appreciated the image with a singular purpose, to ruin Margarite's reputation.

She sent it out to their school network with a mean-girl sexting message: "Ho alert! If you think this girl is a whore, then text this to all your friends." The sexual revolution as it affects young teenagers does not reflect either a liberated spirit or generosity in judgment. "Slut" and "ho" are the operative words they've heard in the lyrics of a lot of their music, but they don't use them to entertain. In this, instance they were meant to humiliate Margarite, and they succeeded.


Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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