It’s hard to imagine what life was like before technology took over, and the information age took off.
As millennials, we grew up alongside the latest technological innovations and emerging social media sites, and they have become our generation’s norm and way of life. Almost anything one could ever need to know is a tap away if carrying a smartphone, and at any given moment there are at least two apps that would allow one to instantly update their network of friends on where they are or what they are doing.
Now you probably think this is going to turn into a “we-use-too-much-social-media-and-technology” rant, but I feel the exact opposite. I love technology, social media and the Internet. There are so many different ways each platform can be utilized to boost a brand or carry out a public relations campaign, but I am also going into the mass communications field, so I may be biased in my love for the emerging field.
However, like with all good things, there are people that use it for evil. As of late, negative perceptions of social media are on the rise with the growth of cyberbullying and the multiple teen suicides that have resulted. I myself, and several of my friends and their families, have had their lives turned upside down after a loved one took their own life due to bullying.
News stations across the country feature reports on the tragedies, and rightfully so, but they are all repeating a similar message — teens and young people on social media are to blame, and they need to be monitored and censored.
On the “Today Show,” there was even a segment about tips for monitoring and checking a child’s Facebook to see what they are up to. Although cyberbullying amongst teens has escaladed, the public needs to stop putting all of the blame on them, and take a hard look at the other demographic of social media users: adults.
A couple weeks ago a young, fit mother, Maria Kang, who is also a personal trainer, posed in a bikini workout outfit with her three young boys and posted it to her social media sites with the caption, “What’s your excuse?”
The post was instantly flooded with comments, some positive and some negative. Several women replied with “You are so inspirational,” or “You look so great,” but many others were harsh and attacking, detailing an “excuse” as to why they are not in shape or don’t spend time working out. The media immediately picked up the story, and soon it went viral all over the Internet.
I learned about the photo after a Facebook friend of mine posted it on her wall, and it was her caption that caught my eye. She divulged on the negative poster’s ridiculousness and then said something very insightful, “How can we expect young kids to stop cyberbullying when so many adults are just as guilty?” This really made me think and realize how right she was.
Oftentimes, I think, people perceive themselves as not a cyberbully when they are stating an opinion or expressing feelings on a subject. Have you ever looked at a controversial post made by Valley News Live or WDAY on Facebook?
The first couple comments are always intuitive and actually answer the question, but soon, all you have is a bunch of adults spewing hollow attacks against someone who shares a different view than they do. Political posts are typically the worst. Some of them get extremely hateful, and for what purpose? To prove one’s point of view is more valid or important than another’s?
Another prime example took place during an episode of “30 Rock.” Liz Lemon, the show’s main character, participates in a new mom chat room where she ends up getting in a fight with one of the other moms about who has it worse off as a parent. Next thing you know, the two are planning to meet in the park to fight. But in comedy show fashion, a fight never ensues, and the “mom” she is planning to fight turns out to be her own husband.
Cyberbullying is still a major problem, and trends predict that it will only get worse as time goes on, unless something is done. I agree a change is necessary and people need to be enlightened on how their words can actually affect someone, but the responsibility falls on all social media users of society, from tweens to grandmothers. Not one group is to blame; they’re all guilty.
BY MEREDITH WATHNE
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