Friday, January 8, 2010

My Guide to Parents on #StarWars #Roleplayer Accts on #Twitter #Cyberbullying & Precedent

Seriously, parents need to know this and what better way to bring it to you that for me to explain how I got cyberbullied as an adult. Now while I can use introspection and reflection based on my skill set, experiences and education, I FEEL for the awkward young person who had not had positive enriching experiences and desire it through this form of social media.

As a research scientist, I explore, discover and analyze molecular relationships. That is my training for my PhD. What my doctorate gave me is not only the intricate understanding of cholesterol flux to the outside of the plasma membrane in reverse cholesterol transport to HDL and ABCA1 and ABCG1, or the concretizing genetically modified mouse systems to understand the development of cardiovascular disease in the heart, diabetics, aging and vessel walls--no--I gave me a way to take a new discovery and develop the framework of elaborating on a whole new Universe in science. It is what we scientists do on the edge of discovery! It gives us our reason for living. It is the driving force for pursuance to gain a foothold into the evolution of the Universe.

However, barriers would put up from out any consideration of evolution. Unlike laws changing or taking in new data to supplant the old, Roleplaying organizational structure remains unchanged because IMHO the psychological insecurities to expands one's powers into a new understanding of the Universe. I am somewhat like a Galileo, who proposed the Earth revolves around the Sun and the Earth is round!

I am a fan of Star Wars, I have not hidden that fact since I presented it months ago. And strongly, I feel that the marketing of Star Wars is missing vast swaths of Fans who value justice, diversity and femininity. The women are too stylized, they are not diverse and they are "damsals in distress" who are unable to find liberation and defend themselves. Moreover, the only liberating factor they have is the use of their bodies to combat the atrocities beset upon them. Is is not about fighting back physically, it is about the audacity of self-preservation! A woman has a right to control her own destiny, her body and her livelihood! But if you hang out with a few of the current Roleplayers--you would quickly learn how untrue it is...

I have been called an idiot, moron and dumbass in the same sentence without any knowledge or acquisition of my heritage, background and experiences. It is like these RP'ers have failed to do their homework... Okay, like the collegiate professor I have been, I educate to give them the critical framework to make an informed choice, to come back to with peer-reviewed reference material and present a proposed changes... Oh, I guess I am taking away from their fun... Only a handful of people are decent enough to have a genteel interaction with me. I wish I was God-Modding or RetConning or Deus Ex Machina... Did I say HANDFUL?

What if I was 16 years old, trying something new, attempting to fit in to something I loved only to be mobbed?

Well, I pick the pieces of people's shattered pain after the loss of a loved one to suicide almost daily and I tell these people I am NOT qualified to help--they need real-time professionally licensed assistance. Sadly, that does not occur... DeeAnna Merz Nagel is a social worker and president of the American Counseling Association runs the largest online mental health therapy. Her work is unprecedented and clearly shows how people are incorporating social media into understanding their mental health. It is beyond WebMD that does have a social media component but is top heavy with loads of consumer information. DailyStrength is another good online mental health resource. And my online mental health resource is geared to women of color, at this point and I am expanding to men...

But when I hear the heart-wrenching stories of NOT KNOWING about someone's son or daughter who committed suicide because of the mobbing, hostility and cyberbullying online and the child internalizes it and cannot move forward with daily living--cavalierly saying get off the computer is not enough--their psychosociology is already intricately tied to social media. People tend to do that. It is NOT gambling proclivity, I doubt that dopamine incursion is increase to a point of addiction, what it is a personality issue that required a more robust examination. IF I decided to stay in research, I would develop a strategy, clinical trial and rubric to understand the molecular nature... Otherwise, right now I can only speculate.

If it was done to me and I am old...I can be done to your child without any protections in place...

Let me be honest, there are places I must hold respect to running and organizing their Star Wars roleplayer boards: The Force.Net, BioWare's Knights of the Old Republic (KOTOR) and (KOTORMMO), and BioWare's Star Wars The Old Republic (SWTOR). Their roleplaying requires detailed knowledge of a character as a requirement to play based on the "Dungeons and Dragons Roleplaying Guide" a decent framework on how to roleplay, but has little academic investigation as to why it works. I think if your child wants to do this, ask them to show you in writing what his/her character is, explain to you in ways you understand so as to provide to the safety on social media sites.

I do not participate in, KOTOR or SWTOR because my characters are extremely sexually explicit. Their stories CANNOT be told without that fact. It is not to override their rules for the gross explicit nature of graphic novelizations, it is to answer a question about the sexual relationships in the Star Wars Universe and how come they are overlooked with there are several key characters who obviously have children... It is to provide solace to those women who have been sexually traumatize and give them a way back to love, back to a some semblance of normality and it is a way for a young girl to avoid the pitfalls of falling into a sexual trap of domineering men. When I see how I was cyberbullied and the devaluation of my "sentience" it is no difference that my experiences with workplace hostility, violence, conflicts and mobbing. It was no positive forward communication within all my attempts to deescalate the conversation: using positive framing, reflective listening and compassionate presence. I was unable to determine what the underlying comments were other than "do what I say, or else"--or else what? And due to the domineering nature of 1 particular member, I was ridiculed and shunned. Now see, that hurts even at 40-something--what gets me is a child... It could be YOUR child and you will not know why...

Here is why: Twitter does not limit the number accounts one person can have. That is an easy fix these days. It is not in their policies to do so. Twitter also has had problems with cyberstalking that can turn into physical stalking. Trusting people dole out information to others they feel they have a rapport and that person turns out to be not the mentality expected. Currently, all users can have a block on their accounts.

For my roleplayer accounts, I have to certify you to accept your follow, but there is not user-defined pre-screen--maybe, "why do you want to follow me?" or what ever the user defines. But currently locked accounts is the way anyone can limit who follows your words.

Direct messaging is often used, if there is a direct message and what must be said is greater than the 140 character limit, often one sends an email account. PLEASE have your child to create a character specific user account and NOT the personal email account. If need be, purchase a new domain name through services that support it and have emails forwarded. BUT do not have your child give out their own personal email account to their own Facebook, Myspace, etc until YOU verify it.

And as always, MONITOR your child's use of social media. Young people are so wired that often adults cannot keep up with the latest technology--now it is the iPhone, Droid applications. They get on the internet and use that technology. Do not ask me how they pay for it because seriously, I do not know... But please, MONITOR it! Ask them how it works. I have asked young people who I have encountered to leave due to the subject-matter content I discuss. I have informed them what my limitations are. But I am the few. I have said to young people under 18 years old, that they do not need to follow my accounts and to inform their parents of their activities. These kids have reassured me it is cool, but I stop them! Those are my ethics.

I have been working with young people for my entire adult professional life, I have "grown up with them" as my life changed and now, as an older adult, with the young people I have seen born and are growing and I want the best for them, I will protect them viciously as much as their parents. Not to be a second parent, but because I know the injustice and harm out there and I have personally experienced it, and I just do not think anyone needs to go through what I have suffered and the rebuilding efforts I had to do.

I hate when I am right... On this one, I pray I am wrong...

Dr. G-