We live in a society that is now overcome by social media. Think about it. How often do you find yourself checking your Facebook notifications? Or how many tweets do you send out in an hour? Well, according to statistics, 700 billion minutes are spent on Facebook each month. 350 million people access Facebook through their mobile devices. And the same goes for Twitter—there are over 465 million twitter accounts in the world. And those 465 million accounts tweet approx. 175 million tweets a day. That’s a lot! Now, being a kid of the “digital era” as my Aunt would say, I humbly admit to contributing to these statistics. Every morning, immediately after waking up, the first thing I do is check my Facebook, followed by my twitter account. And as you can guess, I do the same thing before closing my eyes at night. My parents often ask me if I could go without being on Facebook or Twitter for a day; they think such sites are not productive, and they’re probably right. But much to my parents chagrin, such forms of social media can be useful and constructive.
For example, remember when we had that “great earthquake” of 2011 on the East Coast (If not, check out this article). I remember it as if it was yesterday. Living on the east coast, it was the first earthquake of reasonable magnitude that I ever experienced—at one point I thought I was going to die, but I’m known for being just a little over-dramatic. After the earthquake had finished, I rushed to the home phone to call my parents, to see if they felt the earthquake and if they were okay. I picked up the phone only to discover that the phone lines were dead…cell phones weren’t even working! But thank God for Mark Zuckenburger (or those Winklevoss twins), because even though the phones were down, Facebook prevailed. Taking to Facebook right away, I was able to connect with my friends and family. So it is for this reason, among others, that I am an advocate for social media.
However, “with great power comes great responsibility.” Social media platforms can be very powerful in making or maintaining social connections, etc. However, it is with this power that it can also be abused. It can give people a sense of invincibility. Some may feel more empowered to express themselves without the threat of physical altercation. Next time you are on Facebook or twitter, check the comments that people make on public postings or tweets. I am always amazed by how negative, and quite frankly down right rude and inconsiderate people can be. The post could be something on simple and light-hearted (like neighborhood puppy adoptions), yet somehow the comments always turn dark—whether in regards to politics, economics, race, etc., there always tends to be conflict. Yes! We have the freedom of speech. By no way am I saying that people should limit what they have to say (although some things just shouldn’t be said). I advocate for originality and the ability to hold your own thoughts and beliefs. However, as my mother always says, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it.” You can get your “point across” and share your thoughts, feelings and beliefs without being rude and demeaning of other people. If you feel that there is something you shouldn’t say to someone’s face, that means it probably shouldn’t be said on Facebook either. I’m just saying.
So, instead of hiding behind the “cloak of invincibility”, or your computer screen, I challenge you to better yourself. Instead of spewing nastiness, and hatred that really serves no purpose in life, do something different. There is no reason for tragic incidents such as Megan Meier, who committed suicide after relentless bullying on Myspace. With great power comes great responsibility. Don’t abuse your power.