Esquire (Philippines) - - THIS WAY IN -

Con­sider the chil­dren on our cov­ers, each of them celebri­ties by in­her­i­tance, each of them celebri­ties in their own right—each of them fa­mil­iar to mil­lions of peo­ple, and there­fore open to crit­i­cism. It’s not an easy to way to live (though one could ar­gue that earn­ing mil­lions in en­dorse­ment deals doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make a hard life, ei­ther), but no one seems too sur­prised, be­cause this is how things work now. Our en­tire lives are on dis­play, and we all live and die by the num­ber of fol­low­ers and Likes and so forth. We’re all Kar­dashi­ans, but it’s just that these kids—and their par­ents—do it bet­ter than the rest of us.

The chal­lenges that face the modern dad are all new—their own fa­thers have noth­ing to teach them about nav­i­gat­ing the labyrinthine traps of the In­ter­net. All par­ents have to make up the rules as they go along, and they go along at the speed of in­for­ma­tion these days. That’s true for all of us, celebrity or not, with a mil­lion fol­low­ers on so­cial me­dia, or a hun­dred. It’s an all-new world where reach is power, and power is am­pli­fied. And when power is am­pli­fied, it is also open to abuse.

“While the power of new plat­forms is well­known, what is less rec­og­nized are some of the po­ten­tially harm­ful con­se­quences of en­gag­ing in these spa­ces: sur­veil­lance, cen­sor­ship, in­tim­i­da­tion, ha­rass­ments and at­tacks,” writes Mi­nar Pim­ple, the se­nior di­rec­tor of global op­er­a­tions at Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, “It is fright­en­ing to think that the dig­i­tal space—which holds so many op­por­tu­ni­ties for com­mu­ni­ca­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion—can also be a space for in­creased re­pres­sion and in­tol­er­ance.”

The writer is re­fer­ring to the dan­ger of re­pres­sive gov­ern­ments, but he might as well be talk­ing to all of us, since all of us are part of the sticky web of so­cial me­dia; all of us part of the hive­mind, and all of us, in vary­ing de­grees, com­plicit and cul­pa­ble in what­ever power it wields, and party to the birth of it’s mon­sters. Chil­dren are vul­ner­a­ble. They’ve al­ways been vul­ner­a­ble. But to­day we’ve given them new vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, mul­ti­plied by as many fol­low­ers and anony­mous eyes that see them.

But again, con­sider the fa­ther, stand­ing just out of frame in so many of our pho­tos. They re­main, as al­ways, the guardians, the teach­ers, the de­fend­ers. They have to op­er­ate in these fast and con­fus­ing times, but (we hope) they have also be­come stronger for it. Now, as ever, they are the first thing that stands be­tween us and the abyss.

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