What would grandpa do?
If an Iowa teenager had considered that before sending a risqué video tripping through cyberspace recently, he might have avoided the embarrassment and serious legal charges that have placed a black stain on his own personal history.
The 18-year-old man avoided a stiff jail sentence and a 10-year stint on Iowa’s sex offender registry by pleading guilty to a lesser charge, but the 10-second video of him “fooling around” with his girlfriend that he sent to a 17-year-old friend has cost him and his family plenty.
Although he’s a standout athlete, college recruiters stopped calling when the initial sex crime charge was filed. His father has had to tap into his retirement account to come up with $50,000 to defend his son, whose actions he described as a “high school prank.”
High school pranks have changed a lot since grandpa’s day. We all have stories in our own family histories that we wish would just go away. Up until recently, it was pretty much word of mouth that perpetuated them. No more.
“Once it gets out there in cyberspace, it can get to YouTube, and people continue forwarding it on and on, and it’s a problem,” Polk County Attorney John Sarcone told reporter Jennifer Jacobs of the Des Moines Register.
Our indiscretions are much more public these days, with cell phone cameras and surveillance videos just about everywhere. Add in the viral distribution of the Internet and it’s not surprising that incidents such as this are becoming increasingly common.
“A year from now, five years from now, these cases are going to increase exponentially,” Sean Berry of the U.S. attorney’s office for the Northern District of Iowa told Jacobs.
As with all manner of electronic communication, I’m pretty certain my own grandfather would say: “Think twice before you push that send button.” Your own personal history may be at stake.
Flickr photo courtesy of Mishel Churkin.