Megan Meier: Internet hoax victim


Social networking and it’s pros and cons have been debated since the popularity of such sites as Myspace, Facebook and Twitter have increased and become part of the new Internet age. The Megan Meier’s story is particularly disturbing and has all the elements that are facilitating an adolescent epidemic of risk taking and poor judgment. To quickly sum up the Megan Meier’s story is difficult for there are many layers. It involves female friendships, parenting skills, MySpace, boys and very irresponsible adults.

Megan Meier
Megan Meier

Megan apparently had a falling out with her close friend and neighbor and this neighbors mom Lori Drew was concerned that Megan was going to say indecent things about her daughter. She quickly created a MySpace profile of a young handsome boy she named Josh Evans from a neighboring town, and started communicating with Megan in a flirtatious way. Megan had been dealing with self esteem issues along with every other adolescent, and found the attention of the young man exciting. He was cute and sweet and could really understand her. He told her she was pretty and wanted to be her boyfriend. She had no reason to think anything else was happening. Three weeks into the Internet relationship, he turned on Megan and said she was not the kind of person he wanted to associate with due to things he heard from kids at her school. She responded with shock, tears and hanging herself with a belt as her parents got ready for dinner downstairs.

It was quickly disclosed that the boy with whom Megan had bonded was really a collaborative effort of a family, initiated by the matriarch Mrs. Drew, and maintained by all. They explained that they started the profile on MySpace to protect their daughter from slanderous talk (never did Megan say a bad thing about her neighbor or anyone else). Since the rest of the neighborhood found out about the families twisted game, the Drew’s has complained of harassment on several occasions. To date there will be no charges found against the MySpace family hoax or any of the participants. A tragedy like this is unthinkable yet it is subtle, societal and scary.

Lori Drew
Lori Drew

Update:
Since the story broke I have been paying close attention to the outcome. The strong outcry from all over propelled the law to be reassessed. While the heinous acts of this adult became known across the nation, and indeed even the world, justice seemed to escape Megan Meier.

In May 2008, a federal grand jury in California defied Missouri officials’ refusal to prosecute the case. It indicted Lori Drew on charges of fraudulently using an account on MySpace. Finally, someone had the (courage) to FIND a law to fit the case. Someone finally figured out how to tell Lori Drew that what she did was wrong. Justice was coming, from California of all places!


Well now the verdict is in.

While jurors could not agree on the four charges brought by the federal indictment, they did find Lori Drew guilty of three misdemeanor offenses. This is not the victory we had hoped for. However, no longer will this adult walk away — completely unpunished for her actions. Kansascity.com

This story has been one that managed to be so disgraceful and kept my attention hoping that some sort of justice would be served.  Originally I feared that there would not be any charges brought against Lori Drew due to the tenuous nature of the crime.  I am pleased to know that the case appalled many and that there were lawyers willing to find any loophole to indict Drew.  Her behavior displays the absolute worst in people, callus and calculated Drew spun a web that led to a death.  Her irresponsible and reckless disregard for the feelings of a teenager, her malice and anti-social penchant for bullying is the worst example she could possibly set for  her own children.  God help her family and hopefully this will be a lesson for others who think the Internet is a means for abuse and bullying.

Please read The New Yorker piece on this story here.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Advertisements

Breaking Up Is Hard To Do (on the Web 2.0)


From the archives and for new friends:

12a24fa5eb59b03caccda82b5e5721da4dc7a1ed_m

We have all been through a breakup and felt the inevitable pangs of pain, surges of tears and very real mourning period following the end of a relationship.  In today’s world, where social networking and social media can be a significant part of many of our lives, old fashioned heartbreak can be compounded by the “Internet breakup”.

Breaking up with someone with whom you shared your likes and dislikes, sent xoxo’s and matched compatibility quiz results with on sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and of course the uber-popular Youtube, along with the many other social networks brings forth an entirely new set of issues.  For instance, how long does one wait to remove from one’s page the comments, photos, and “gifts” (sent while in the often delusional. blissful cloud of love) that stare back and now haunt you? This person was your No. 1 spot in your top friends for heavens sake! What is one to do?

Once these are removed and the STATUS in the profile changes from any of the oh-so-charming descriptions ranging from “it’s complicated” or “in committed relationship” to “single”, what is the proper etiquette for well wishers and others who will invariably ask how you are coping, what happened and other questions that may be sincere but can burn through the screen like molten lava?  What to do with the bevy of comments left to make sure you “keep your chin up”, that they are “thinking of you” and whatever other trite phrase  delivered in glitter loitering in cyberspace like floating bullets in a Matrix-like freeze frame. Makes one want to pownce directly into a gaping void.

As in the traditional break up there is always the division of “friends”.  The Internet makes that division a blatantly public and often childish process.  Do they “De-friend you?”  Do you “De-friend” them?  Who does what and how long until someone takes action?  There is always that one first friend that is brave enough to make the friend switch. This person simply enjoys the new friendship more than the original friendship, yet inevitably puts themselves into the center of what may turn into a battle of loyalties, criticism and of course the unbearable insult of being De-friended (they also risk negative posts and g-d knows what from the slighted party).  These friends that once felt Linkdin may experience the pain of being blocked, ignored or even… dare I say… spammed.

So as you sit there and ponder the thought “OMG” this could happen to me and your heart goes all a twitter, feeling like drinking a tumblr of whatever is readily available in the house, I ask you, what are the new rules governing this era of Internet everything? How should this go down and how can you emerge relatively unscathed from all the added remnants now gathering in the cloud? How does one go from being the couple of Web 2.0 to …Web no.0?”

I hereby offer a few initial suggestions and I am sure I will come up with many more, but I need to know what you, the tech-lover, thinks.  Perhaps together we can come up with some basic framework for keeping our net presence intact as we navigate the treacherous on-line break up?

Rules of Disengagement for Internet-related break ups

1. Do not post a breakup blog explaining the gory details.  Such things should be private, even in today’s voyeuristic world.

2. Removal of ex should be done gradually. i.e. they did not disappear from the face of the earth, just perhaps from your life or more visibly, your vlog.  This should be adhered to in order to avoid the inevitable onslaught of queries about your separation. Do it for the other person, if not for yourself.

3. Do not post new pictures of yourself with an ex, a new whatever or overtly salacious images in an attempt to inflict additional pain on your ex (no mater how much you think you hate them).4. It is not recommended posting hourly, self-involved mood updates that will not only indulge the voyeurism of others, but cheapen the anguish you both feel. In a nutshell, don’t twit a twitter.

5. While sending angry emails/IM’s in the wake of your break up, do not digg yourself a hole you cannot climb out of.  This means that words on a screen are forever. Permanent. Nothing is ever truly erased from the web.  So pick your jabs wisely and don’t stumbleupon your own immature cruelty.

6. Do not badmouth your ex. You are an adult..

7. Avoid “tracking” your ex’s web activity. This can only lead to obsession and worse, web stalking.

8. Do not refer in any way to your suddenly, even remarkable renewed sex drive, virility, or promiscuity. This is so far beneath you as to be found somewhere deep in the Earth’s mantle.

9. Take a break from social media. We could all use one.

10. Eat, drink, be merry and do not let the bad experience disillusion you as to the viability of another Web-based relationship – we all benefit from social media, both platonic-socially, and if we are careful and a bit lucky, we may fall for another Tech-god  again, with markedly better results.

Written in collaboration with Michelle Oshen

Copyright ©2008 Veronica Romm

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Myspace: The honeymoon phase.


myspace.jpg

Preface: I was in fact a little addicted to Myspace at the time I wrote this and believed it to be a fantastic creative outlet to share with friends. This explains the title of the article. 

Technology has widened our horizons, broadened our scope and created neighbors that are thousands of miles away. No internet tool or social networking site has been quite as successful as Myspace and at bridging the gap between regular guys and girls and the “celebrities” they covet.


MySpace allows the user through various avenues to find and contact a host of people with similar interests, voyeuristic tendencies and whatever else binds people together. MySpace has even created “celebrities” of its own. For example Tilla Tequila a tiny yet curvaceous user has over a million  billion friends on her site. With a bevy of provocative photos this mini diva has been featured in men’s magazines such as FHM and Maxim. She has been offered promotions and most recently starred in her own bi-sexual reality show on MTV, (season two starts soon). The question then is why this diminutive creature is so appealing to men in cyberspace? For one thing it seems that the interactive element to Myspace actually allows her admirers to feel closer to her. As she adds them as friends there is a feeling that a certain intimacy exists that print magazines cannot offer. Once added asa friend, comments are posted that reinforce the admirers lust for her, with such originals as “your hot” and “sexy” followed by offers of servitude to her every whim. Sometimes these comments are in the form of images and even glittery sayings (lots of glitter on Myspace).


This top social networking site also provides the opportunity to reconnect with people they have lost touch with over time.  They may live on opposite sides of the country or the planet for that matter, but a simple search might prove to find them staring back at you waiting for a friend request or an add. Next thing you know there is a connection once again with someone with whom it may otherwise not have been possible. If nothing else it allows a safe and friendly way to catch up and share news, updates and of course photos that are updated relentlessly.


Musicians and bands find a great deal of support through Myspace. Posting their latest releases, concert dates and impromptu shows get the fans involved and once again bridge the space between the voice on the disc and some more attainable and accessible method of connecting. Once only independent films, but now major studios use MySpace to preview trailers and build buzz for premieres, actors and awards. There are often contests and promotions which offered exclusively to the “friends” again help foster the would-be audiences feelings of greater connectedness, and this certainly does not hurt ticket sales.


There are critics that abound to pledge their disgust and disapproval of Myspace and the many other similar sites that have become popular social media networks since this article was conceived. Mainly negative attention revolves around the problem stemming from under age users posting inappropriate or potentially dangerous material. These critics however disdain any medium that requires responsibility for parents and adults to monitor their children’s on-line behavior. Myspace for instance has a no tolerates abuse policy and responds quickly when abuse is reported. Therefore, the negatives are minimal and are overshadowed by the benefits of connection.


The Internet has been described as a way to isolate from people, and in many ways it certainly does create a private world for some people who only interact via these means. For others, however, social networking sites provide the outlet to connect along the cyber-highway and become much closer to that which interests, excites or encourages them. 

Copyright ©2007  Veronica Romm

Since writing this article I have written more about the dangers that do exist: Our Teens are Running Wild, and navigating dating and internet dating Breaking up is hard to do (on Web 2.0).

AddThis Social Bookmark Button