Social Media: Friend or Foe?

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By Danielle Sposato
Head Copyeditor

We are a world dependent on technology; our addiction is to our phones, our webpages, and our social media applications. These addictions rule our day-to-day lives in a way that allows harmful individuals to hide behind their screens, and avoid any real face-to-face contact, giving them an incredible amount of power.

A student is scrolling through her Facebook feed. Photo: Danielle Sposato
A student is scrolling through her Facebook feed.
Photo: Danielle Sposato

This reason alone has created an epidemic that has engulfed the lives of almost every teen, young adult, and adult across the world. According to the Megan Meier Foundation, 71.9 percent of young adults have reported being cyber bullied at least once during the school year, in a 2014 study. Why do you think that is?

Social media, such as Facebook or Twitter, allows the user to have open opportunities to say how they feel about others. It has become a popular go-to when dealing with cyberbullying, because the bully knows and understands that everyone will be able to view what he or she posts. This gives the bully an extreme amount of power. We no longer live in the days when a child’s worst fear was someone taking their lunch money; they now fear that their reputations will be attacked in a public sphere on the internet, a place that once you make a post, there is no taking it back.

What do you think constitutes bullying on social media? Kresla Storey, a senior English major, described cyberbullying to be “name calling, derogatory comments, just saying nasty things.” According to No- Bullying.com, the section on Cyber Safety Social Media’s article, entitled, “social media bullying has become a serious problem” (May 25, 2014), negative comments on pictures is a form of abuse, as well as simply using the pictures of others to create a harmful post. Storey believes that the motivation behind the bullying is fueled by pure boredom, “they are just jerks who need an outlet,” she said. “I think they are ignorant and don’t understand that’s not how you treat another human being.”

The thought of mocking someone’s entire existence and picking out their flaws as a form of entertainment is unsettling and troubling. Unfortunately, this trend is real and it’s raw. Cyberbullying on social media has ruined many lives, and has even taken them. In 2006, Megan Meier, who the Megan Meier Foundation is in honor of, took her own life due to being ridiculed and bullied on her MySpace page. This unfortunate circumstance exemplifies the idea that cyberbullying gives the attacker the most power.

In Meier’s case, the “boy” who bullied her wasn’t actually a boy at all. It was a mother of another girl, Lori Drew, that Meier attended school with who did not like her very much. Drew and her daughter created a fake profile just to torment Meier. This is cyberbullying in its most intense form; it allowed the tormenters to push Meier to her worst possible fate, suicide. Thus, it sparks “ the question: is cyberbullying something to ignore?

Absolutely NOT! It is up to all of us to stop it in its tracks, so those who are suffering do not face the same fate as young Megan Meier. Some tips you can give someone who may not know how to handle cyberbullying on any of their social media accounts if it occurs is to un-friend anyone who has been posting negative content to their page, according to NoBullying.com. “Block anyone who continues to send messages,” Storey said. And definitely let an adult know what is happening. Storey added, “I know a lot of people who are not on Facebook because of [cyberbullying].” Those people are taking the right steps in order to work through this tough situation they were unfairly placed in.

Although our generation has matured and grown, that does not mean that cyberbullying on social media doesn’t play a part in our daily lives. “It doesn’t matter what age…anyone can be bullied,” Storey said. Hopefully we can help anyone out there who is succumbing to this situation, in order to prevent the number of causalities due to this torment.

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