Center for a Stateless Society
A Left Market Anarchist Think Tank & Media Center
Authorities Say: Fear Your Kids and Fear Computers

There is a new thing that authorities are telling parents to be afraid of: kids listening to meditation music on the internet to “get high.”

Blogger Charles “Rad Geek” Johnson describes the scare in his July 15 entry i-Give Up. Despite the fact that so-called “digital drugs” do not involve actual ingestion of chemicals and have not been shown to have any harmful effects, “i-dosing” is presented as an unquestionably harmful practice. Visiting digital drugs websites is also supposed to make people more likely to start using illegal drugs – with the implication that minors should be sealed off from the world where they might learn of sin.

Some people do use actual drugs in ways that harm themselves. After all, anything can be done to excess, especially by people attempting to address or avoid underlying problems. But other people who use drugs do fine in life, maybe even better than they would have done without ever having used drugs.

High-risk behavior can be healthy in moderation. It provides new perspectives on life which can lead to greater understanding and better overall flourishing of personhood.

But such facts do not sway those who manufacture teen scares. The problem to them is unsupervised fun and the independence it involves.

Leisure, like most areas of life, is expected to be regimented and guided by experts. Leagues, troops, and college-application-friendly “extracurricular activities” take the place of adventure, self-improvement, and spontaneous social development. While some uses of formal organizations may be absolutely beneficial to the individual’s development, the obsessive drive to create designated times and official sanction for everything displaces the individual’s capacity to find meaning in life. As a substitute they are given professional sermons, commercial self-help products, mission statements, professionally-engineered culture, and government-approved drugs to make it easier to digest.

Finding one’s own adventure and meaning cultivates personal initiative, but waiting for others to hand life to you leaves you more vulnerable to dishonest marketing – like the marketing the military does on captive students.

To teen scare manufacturers, any group of young people congregating without official guidance is a threat. They will not consider the possibility that people might be working out their problems and meeting their needs without some exerting authority over others. Whenever a break in the system’s control becomes evident, the break will be used as a justification to clamp down with greater control. Possessions will be confiscated and free time and technology will be further restricted.

Authorities want parents to fear technology for the independence it can foster. They will not honestly evaluate the premises of what growing up is supposed to mean. Instead, any challenge to the official way of growing up – any new way of doing things, whether new music or new technology – is viewed with suspicion or hostility.