Monday, August 28, 2006

Wolves in the blogosphere - and the odd lynx

The loch, Bishop's Glen
Originally uploaded by goforchris.
I was reading yesterday of how a recently-deceased landowner in the north of Scotland proposed the reintroduction of wolves and lynx to Scotland to keep down the red deer population. A more natural and efficient means than shooting, he thought. Tending as we do here at The Blethers to wander the countryside at all times of the year, on- and off-road, we were discussing with interest the added thrill a chance meeting with a wolf or several would add to a hike, and how walking poles would fare as a defence weapon.

But this discussion led me to thinking about the internet (of course). Long ago, when fearsome beasts did indeed roam the countryside, parents must have worried about their offspring. Was it safe to send wee Fergus (aged 4) for water at the burn? What was little Catriona doing staying out after dark? Had she been eaten? Presumably they coped with this threatening world - and taught their children how to cope with it too. Less long ago, I grew up in a tenement in Glasgow - a top flat. My mother had a choice: let me out to play, out of sight, among the air-raid shelters left over from the war, and hope that they didn't collapse on me, and reiterate the admonition to "be sensible" - or keep me cooped up all day until she was ready to take me and the baby out for messages.

Now the world has a new hazard: lurking paedophiles waiting to see photos of our kids if we publish them, or to lure them into assignations. So what do we do? Set up barriers, school intranets (because there are never any nasty parents of teachers, are there?), stop kids blogging in school ....?

Or do we prepare them for life as it is now, to defend themselves against cyber-wolves, to learn from an early age how to "be sensible"? Yes. Because if we don't, they'll still stray out of the compound, away from the firelight - you can't hold them back as if they were perpetual babes. We wouldn't want to, would we? Leave them without this early experience of the world at our peril.

They'll be eaten, and it'll be our fault.

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