In her fourth chapter entitled, “danger”, Boyd challenges the notion of whether sexual predators truly are lurking amongst the “digital streets”, ready to pounce on any opportunity to attack online youth users. Through recollections of interviews with teens and accounts of media panics concerning this moral panic stimulated by social media like MySpace. This chapter truly hits close to home as I came of age during this exact period, when super sites like MySpace was just beginning its short-lived prevalence. I was even surprised to see Boyd’s feature of the one and only Kiki Kannibal, whom I had also avidly followed as a “scene-queen” enthusiast back in middle school, the dark days. What was even more surprising was the dark story Kirsten Ostrenga faced all throughout her MySpace popularity.
Boyd advocates a more empathetic approach to protecting minors from online predators and I could not agree with her more. She even compares this propagated movement of moral panic to the failed “Just Say No” campaign which lumped together all drugs, relaying a “fear-driven abstinence-only message regarding drugs [leaving] no room for meaningful conversation.” (126) This same fear-driven, abstinence-only methodology clearly did not work to the avail of the youth and neither does it work when it comes to online participation. Recollecting my years back in 2006 I certainly do remember this fear of predators and stalkers, founded only on rumors and sensationalized news stories. While reading this chapter I was immediately reminded of a film I watched in maybe seventh or eighth grade, when this moral panic was at its peak. Hard Candy, featuring a young Ellen Page is a thriller about a fourteen-year old vigilante girl who attempts to expose a suspected sexual predator by risking herself as a prey. Watching this film reinforced the fear I had already been subjected to about the Internet. What’s interesting to me however is questioning whether this moral panic has decreased or if I simply grew out of it by the time I turned eighteen.