Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Skype = Pervert Central?

Obscenity Turns English Students Off Skype

Some subscribers to the Internet chat and telephony service Skype are spreading dirty language and videos, knowledge-hungry users complain. Many Korean students use the Skype messenger program to practice their English conversation. Skype provides services in 28 languages to almost 200 million people in approximately 220 countries. Since launching services in Korea in 2006, Skype has managed to sign up a lot of people. Although other Internet messengers also provide chat services, voice and video calls, Skype allows users to select options for chat partners.

One college student said, "It was good to make foreign friends easily with Skype. I improved my English proficiency by chatting with a French friend." But some strangers are sending her pornographic videos and making obscene jokes through the Skype messenger. “I’ve started to become prejudiced against their countries,” she says. An 18-year-old schoolgirl, who signed up with Skype to practice her English with foreign friends, said, "Most foreigners using the Skype chat service seem to just want to meet girls and make filthy jokes. So I felt bad and deleted the program just two days after installing it."

An official from Auction, which manages the Korean Skype services said, "It’s impossible to monitor every Internet conversation. We are aware of the problems, but we can't take responsibility for them. In the future, we will discuss possible solutions to the problems such as word filtering, throwing abusive people out of chat rooms or making a blacklist.”
I thought this one was interesting. I'm on Skype and, for similar reasons, I rarely use it. If someone I know knows I'm on it or finds me on it and then sets up a time, I'll log on. Otherwise, it's a rare day indeed that you'll see me logged into Skype. I go as far as writing on my profile that if I don't know you don't even bother with adding me as a friend. I do this to just steer clear of boring "conversations" with people I don't know, "conversations" with people who want to learn English (tons there and I've denied every request) and the "talk dirty online" people.

That last category is what has young Ms. Kim all in an uproar.

However, I take issue with foreigners being cast as sexual deviants when there is more than enough of that here too.

Her quote also shows a very low level thought process. She has now judged their countries because she's met a couple of freaks on the Internet?

First, I can go into Skype and change my country, so you can be from anywhere but say you're from Canada or someplace else.

Second, she can use Skype with the knowledge that there are freaks out there and take steps like I have to avoid them online.

Third, I don't hate Korea because of Cho Seung-hui, Woo Bum-kon, Kim Jong-il or his father, Rev. Moon Sung-myung, the scores of Koreans who launched into anti-Americanism over the tragic accident in 2002 where two girls were killed but ignored the fact that North Korea had intentionally killed four South Korean sailors or that drunk Korean adjoshi (older man) who cornered me and made a grab for my breasts on a train mere months after I moved here (no link for that one, but thanks to the train attendant I fetched to get drunk man away from me.)

Fourth, it's just stupid to generalize on such a low level. Maybe it's fair to say Americans tend not to care much about other countries or cultures. It, however, is not fair to say that all Americans are bad people. That seems to be what Ms. Kim is doing regarding whatever countries these foreigners are from (how much do you want to bet that the US is on that list?)

Maybe it's because I come from a country where ALL groups have both good and bad. I'm also aware that people, in general, do this which is why I tense up when there is a crime that makes the news and hope "don't let it be a black person." Of course, sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't. If the person is black, I know that he or she doesn't have any connection to me but people not inclined to thinking too deeply, I'm sure, disagree with me.

I just notice that this is something Koreans do a lot in the context of foreigners. It's clear from how this article was slanted: foreigners = bad sexual deviants (some are, no doubt), Koreans = innocent, hard-working people with a thirst for knowledge (also, some are but some spend loads of time playing computer games).

Now if they're serious about snatching that "hub of Asia" title from Singapore they're going to need to reduce that tendency because, as it stands, there are plenty of other locations in Asia that are more conducive to a better lifestyle and friendlier environment.

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