You're wrong for sharing that 11yr-old's breakup text

You're wrong for sharing that 11yr-old's breakup text

Dear You -- the sharers, supporters, applauders, grabbers of their mouths and dippers of their knees in clear overreaction to what is perceived to be the "ultimate burn', 

Let me cut to the chase... 

In a week that several other scholars submitted prototypes for cancer detectors and climate change solutions, you chose to focus on 11-year-old Katie Nickens who told her boyfriend off in a series of text messages. "Nicely done" "WTH that's the best breakup text eva" "Best. Breakup. Ever" "Katie's going to break the internet with that".

You, together with several reputable, supposedly trustworthy news media have catapulted a child to fame for behaving like an adult. There Katie is, flying through the air of fame, being applauded for ending a relationship that she should not have been in the first place. There she is, sailing high on recognition, being celebrated for her lack of emotional maturity. Katie's smiling and waving at people in shopping malls and replying to others on email because she's just so loved for getting out of a committed relationship with "Joey", who allegedly cheated on her, even though they loved each other and said so with a Starbucks gesture.

Do You feel proud for your repost that has sent Katie up the ranks of internet fame and put her on the rainbow of adoration? The truth is, you might have moved on to reposting the next thing that breaks the internet, but Katie is still up there on the flight of fame and it's about to lose momentum and plunge into the reality of this misguided life choice.

Katie entered Grade 1, roughly four years ago. FOUR years ago. Previously, she was in diapers, having her bottom cleaned up and her food pulverised so she could "chew". This girl, who could barely hold a crayon a few years ago, has been pictured in an adult scenario and You are perfectly okay with that. 

Katie cannot undo her internet fame. The changes that have occurred in her brain and the impact she's taken on her emotional development are already set in. And this is thanks to your repost and attention.

Katie's life choices should have alarmed each adult enough to find her assistance and to launch programs that protect youngsters from growing up too fast and with too little guidance. Instead, adults acted like children in spreading this story around. Do you know how ridiculous You look standing there, laughing with a child who is about to fall into a pit she might never get out of?

And did You consider that the other two children named in all the posts would have to deal with the attention they didn't expect? Did you think about 'Natalie' and 'Joey' and how ridiculed and accused they might feel in this whole episode? You made them the subject of adult jokes, adult opinions, adult criticism and gave them a spotlight that might affect them in untold ways.

Well done, You. What a productive use of your time to repost a story of an 11-year-old child and her broken understanding of relationships. Will you be on the lookout for the follow up article on the effect of the fame on her? Will you be checking in on this child to find out if she is suffering devastating depression, untamed arrogance, suicidal thoughts or attention-seeking behaviour? Probably not.

It's been several days of seeing this headline in the news. Had this story been pitched at Newsful, we would have discarded it without a second look. We certainly would not have tried to track down the children in this drama to get their comment.

Our bottom line is this: Children should be in communities that allow them to cry from the disappointment of having their scoop of ice cream fall to the floor. Every child who has to endure unnecessary emotional hurt should matter enough that we leap to action to change their circumstance. And if that means stopping ourselves from reposting content that sends a child down the wrong road, then that's what we should do.

This letter might not get any attention, any likes or any comments. But what this letter does is reaffirm what Newsful stands for. Useful News. Information that people can grow from. News that sparks the next good idea.

I wish I could call Katie and invite her to spend some time reexamining her life choices and making sure she doesn't board an elevator that takes her to where the air is too thin or where the light is too dark. Ding Ding Ding.

Yours, Team Newsful

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