It’s the question of the hour: Is technology-enhanced brutality worse than plain old-fashioned brutality?

At a party, a young woman is allegedly drugged senseless, taken out into a field and raped by seven young men. That is plain old-fashioned brutality.

But this is 2010, so one of the men posts photos of the attack on his Facebook page. That’s technology-enhanced brutality.

And yes, it is worse. Not only must that young woman suffer the shock and pain that goes with the attack, she must bear the shock and pain that goes with the knowledge that the photos went viral and now there are untold thousands who are able to watch her being brutalized in the privacy of their darkened rooms.

What kind of young monster wants to broadcast this sick triumph to the world? And why is it even possible?

On the one hand, Facebook is a wonderful tool for social interaction. It’s an electronic back fence that allows us to share the news of our lives with each other via a few keystrokes.

On the other, it’s a frightening new social disease.

Of course, it’s not just Facebook. By the time young men turn 18, most have mutilated or killed a multitude of virtual aliens, soldiers, gangsters, and plenty of innocent bystanders. No one really dies; they’re just pixels.

After a while, seeing pixellated people through the cross hairs can’t be good for the part of the brain in charge of right or wrong, shame or pity, mercy or love.

None of those virtues were in the Pitt Meadows field last Friday night. The 16-year-old girl, described by her distraught father as witty and beautiful, was just another target for the boys, who posted the results on Facebook like the high score on a video game.

We need to understand – right now, before it’s too late – that this reality pornography feeds an evil hunger that grows day by day. The police say three crimes have been committed here: the rape itself, and the photos of the rape, which are child pornography. And possession of child pornography.

Make no mistake, everyone who downloads those photos is participating in a criminal act. Despite their inevitable protests, they become part of the gang who raped a girl who was once witty and beautiful.

Technology makes it so much easier to be callous and brutal. So much so, it hardly feels like a crime.

And that’s the really scary part.