TMI: Too Much Information

May 29, 2010 | 2010 Articles, Public Protectors

by Steven Wright,
M.A. in Criminology

badgeNot a day goes by that I don’t say “TMI” to myself several times. In today’s information age and advanced technology, this actually applies in many different areas of our society. It impacts us from the time we get up until the time we turn the lights out at the end of the night. There is no way this article can address every area and every capacity, but I will offer perspective on some aspects and the impact it is having on our society and especially our young people.

To provide a small sample, pick up a copy of a local newspaper and look in the classified advertisement section. You will see picture ads with half naked men and women that advertise, “if you want a woman – call this number, if you want a man – call this number.” Turn on the television and you see the same ads, but live-action. These ads are very seductive and solicit people to call for a “hook-up.” The social websites out there that pander to one-night stands are numerous. This nation is inundated with information in the public arena that should be part of the private lives of individuals. The worst part is millions of us participate in the activity as if it is just a natural way to develop a relationship.

Now, to get to my point. We are faced with an unprecedented breakdown of family values; divorce rates are through the roof, teen pregnancy is higher than it has been in decades. Children in this country are having children at an alarming rate and expected to be able to raise a child before they have matured themselves. Everyone has a cell phone, PDA, smart phone, iPhone or some other communication device. Everyone is connected to everyone, almost whether you want to be or not. Young people are exposed to more and more adult material and have become active in conduct far more hazardous than you can imagine.

Turn on the television and pay attention to the shows that appeal to the young people today. I am not talking about the Disney channel or Nickelodeon, but shows like The Family Guy, American Dad, South Park, not to mention the reality shows. Over the past several years, shows have spun off from the original Survivor series and Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire. They have gotten more graphic and ridiculous with each one. These shows, like I Love New York, Rock of Love with Bret Michaels, Flavor Flav’s reality series, you know the ones I am referring to.. These all display the worst we have to offer. What are the lessons learned when our children watch these shows? Especially when they are “Reality” shows. Is this really what we are as a society? Are we blurring the lines between fantasy and reality? Are we blurring the lines between deviance and acceptable behavior? Are we showing our children it is acceptable to have indiscriminate sex with multiple partners? We may laugh at some of these shows, but the impact on our society is not funny at all.

The question we all must ask ourselves is where do we draw the line? For many years this line has moved, but in which direction. It seems we become more and more desensitized as time goes by, and behavior that may have been alarming becomes commonplace. Is it too late to turn back the clock? Can society take it all back, forget what we have been exposed to, take the images from our children’s minds?

I was not able to address violence and the blurring of reality in video games and music videos, so that is another story. There does come a time when society has to take a stand and say, “enough.” We cannot keep doing things the same way and expecting a different response from the next generation.

Steven Wright is an ongoing contributor to our
Public Protectors section, offering an inside perspective from his 26 years in law enforcement.