The Kids Aren't All Right on Social Media

Now even criminal acts get posted for the world to see.

By + More

For all the outrage over the National Security Agency's snooping into people's phone and email records, it's really stunning how many people willingly subject themselves to universal scrutiny – then complain that their privacy has been violated.

What goes on in the minds of people who would buy the new iPhone and actually agree to have their thumbprints used as a security measure? Passwords can be hacked, to be sure – but they can also be changed. Thumbprints are forever, making them especially alluring to identity thieves. You can't complain about government looking at your phone records and then give your uniquely identifying characteristic to Apple.

It's a hypocrisy not limited to the young, but it does seem as though the Facebook generation has a particular disconnect when it comes to balancing online self-promotion and privacy (let alone human dignity). How else to explain the behavior of hundreds of youngsters who apparently engaged in actual criminal behavior – holding a wild party at the summer home of an ex-NFL player and causing $20,000 worth of damage – then posted pictures of themselves doing it online?

[See a collection of editorial cartoons on the NSA.]

And yet, that is exactly what a bunch of teenagers in Stephentown, N.Y. did over Labor Day weekend, when they held an illegal party at the home of linebacker Brian Holloway. The damage, according to ABC News 10 in New York, included spray-painted walls (including the first names of the perpetrators themselves), broken windows, floors scuffed by beer kegs and carpets soaked with beer, liquor and urine. Classy.

But is the unexamined criminal act worth doing? It seems the teens thought not. They actually took photos of themselves destroying the house and posted them on the Internet, along with tweets telling the world what they did. Did the youngsters think no one outside their little group would see the evidence posted on the big billboard in the sky? Or did they just think they should be allowed to do whatever they wanted without punishment?

It may have been a little of both. Holloway posted the pictures in an effort to identify the teens who did the damage so they could help clean it up. A handful of young people – notably, teenagers who did not even participate in the house-trashing – came to help. And the rest of them? Some of their parents, according to Holloway, have threatened to sue the former ballplayer for violating their kids' privacy.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Should Americans Be Worried About the National Security Agency's Data Collection?]

It's unfathomable that a parent would have any other reaction than to grab their selfish children by the scruff of the neck, drag them over to the damaged house, force them to apologize and then begin cleaning up the home. They should also be forced to pay whatever is necessary to fix the home.

But the sense of entitlement these kids felt was clearly taught. Violation of privacy? Here's a thought: Don't brag about your criminal behavior in the most public way possible. And if you really want to understand what it means to have no privacy, serve jail time for your criminal behavior. They don't even have private showers in jail. And here's what's worse: no WiFi.

  • Read Peter Roff: 'Creepy' Uncle Sam Ads Show the Way to Defeat Obamacare
  • Read Jamie Chandler: House GOP Acts the Bully Over Food Stamps and Defunding Obamacare
  • Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad