Connecting in Cyberspace

Connecting in Cyberspace

“Are you a bot?” Something inside of me never ceases to wonder in amazement at what lies behind this question that often – too often – frames the opening salvo of a conversation with Kellimni.com*. Our teenagers want to connect. They loath what is false or artificial but desperately crave for connections that are real, significant and genuine: qualities that make a relationship deeply human. This need to connect drives them to reach out continuously, lest they end up alone. For nothing is as scary, or as hurtful, to the average teen as loneliness. Being left out is unbearable at an age when they are willing to do almost anything to be accepted by their peers and blend in. Enter Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Kik: instant gratification and connection are only two key clicks away. But hold on a second, how safe are they online? Who are they hanging out with in cyberspace? And, by the way, how in tune are caring adults with their world? Teenagers may have a rough time distinguishing the good guys from the bad in cyberspace. Superficiality does not impress them either, for it renders them cheap. They sometimes flirt with it but their sensitive nature often only tolerates it to an extent. And then they feel bad about themselves… Kellimni.com reaches out to all teens in these islands with a message rich in humanity: real people, professionally trained to support the young, through a genuinely caring relationship that begins, and ends, online…  a relationship where the young can feel free and remain anonymous if they wish, and where what they share is respected and...
I can never get that moment back

I can never get that moment back

I remember a time when it was common to use siblings as messengers. This was nothing new to me. Some older girls at my school would quietly give me little notes, safely secured with sticky tape, to pass on to my brother. As soon as I hit my teenage years, I did the exact same thing and found someone else’s sibling to act as a messenger. Being in a conservative girls school, we would hide the letters in the sleeves of our cardigans in fear of the nuns finding out that we were sending letters to ‘boys’. It was all part of the excitement. I also remember sprinting to the phone, before anyone else in the family answered, just in case a ‘boyfriend’ called. Going out at the weekend meant that we didn’t know whether we would meet our crush. It was hard to forget the butterflies and the excitement that we felt if a person we fancied happened to be at the same venue. Like any teenager, I have no doubt that we acted foolishly and frivolously in the presence of a person that we liked. It was a different time and the passage of time is inevitable. The difference today is that, unlike my teenage years, most teenagers have an internet-enabled phone in their pocket. Our first flirtations may have ranged from a little note or a secret Valentine card. But without access to smartphones or the web, our romantic gestures, however embarrassing, were rarely seen by anyone else.  At most, the notes would be stored in a little shoebox. Unlike physical cards or photos, the Internet never forgets and, once...