5 Terrifying Online Trends (Invented By the News Media)

#2. The Internet Will Make Mothers Neglect Their Children Until They Are Dead

This story broke just days before this article was written. Headline: "Baby Drowns While Mom Playing Game on Facebook."

That's right -- Facebook and its bullshit Flash games are so addictive that you will be brainwashed into letting your children die. Read the link: The mother clearly neglected her baby while she played on Facebook. She probably left the kid drifting in standing water for hours, or days, while she stared transfixed at her devil-game.

The flickering images stole her sanity.

Actually, the CNN version of the story has a few more details. The baby was left alone for three minutes. The mother had started a routine of leaving the baby alone to bathe because she (stupidly) thought it would teach him to be more independent. Bad parent? Yup. Negligent? Looks like it, and she's being charged as such.

Hypnotized by a new mind-controlling technology into forgetting that she loves her child? Fuuuuuuck no.

Read between the lines in every single "parent abandons child for (insert social networking or gaming activity here)" story and you'll find the same thing. There's a famous one from South Korea where a couple "Let Their Baby Starve to Death While Nurturing a Virtual Child."

But hey, South Korea does other stuff, too.

Yep, no other factors at play here! Oh, wait, both parents had just lost their jobs. Both were suffering from depression. The baby was born prematurely. They had disconnected from everything. If it hadn't been the game, it would have been drugs, or a cult, or take your pick.

Don't get me wrong; as a father, I want to ear-fuck both of them with a cordless drill. But my point is that the game did not kill their child. They never sat down and made a conscious decision that this virtual baby was more important than their own. The news media said all that for them.

It's enough to make you long for the good old days, when headlines were easier to ignore in favor of cartoons.

#1. The Internet Will Drive Your Children to Suicide

Jesus. Here we go.

Headline: "Phoebe Prince, South Hadley High School's 'New Girl,' Driven to Suicide by Teenage Cyber Bullies."


She was driven to suicide by people who knew her in real life, you sensationalist motherfuckers.

Read the story. The vast majority of the abuse happened in school and when she was walking home. See, that's the kind of abuse that can terrorize a person. Real-life abuse, from real people who can physically intimidate you and do tangible harm, people who can affect your everyday life and ruin your reputation in school, or drive away friends.

This generation needs a Carrie.

Maybe, out there somewhere, is a kid who in fact committed suicide based purely on "cyberbullying" -- that is, people he or she knew only online, where the abuse was limited to the sort of thing can you can do over the Internet (threatening comments and emails, etc.). I can't find such an example, and I'm betting that for every kid who suffered an emotional breakdown over "cyberbullying," you'll find several hundred who can trace their problems to things that happened right here in the boring old real world.

And no, they can't justify publicizing a family's personal tragedy based on the idea that it "raises awareness" of cyberbullying, same as they can't justify splashing a dead baby across headlines based on raising awareness of gaming addiction.

They had a chance to raise awareness -- of depression, and the grotesque lack of mental health services available to most people. They could have gone after the real causes, but those boring old subjects don't put asses in the seats.

Nothing brings people together like being terrified of the future.

Nope, we need a bogeyman. Maybe it's not even the media's fault -- maybe it's the audience's fault for falling for it. So how about this:

Some day we'll all be old, and scared. And our kids and grandkids will be messing with some kind of neural interface that we find upsetting and weird and alien. When stories hit the headlines claiming that this newfangled tech is making our kids fight and steal and kill themselves -- you know, do all of the things kids have been doing since the beginning of time -- let's try not fucking falling for it.

Discover some other innovations that were real bogeymen our new book.

And check out more from Cheese in The 4 Most Important Things to Know as a Gamer Parent and 5 Internet Life Lessons Parents Need to Start Teaching Kids.

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