After reading and watching all the material that was given to us, it became very apparent to me that all of this could have been avoided with one simple question before hitting the send button: can this post affect anyone in any way? One small post can affect everyone involved negatively and hurt others in the process. This question should not only be asked to the person who messed up, but also to the people criticizing the person who messed up. Everyone has made mistakes, it happens. I think that society needs to be aware that criticizing others for their mistakes probably makes the person feel even more awful than they already feel for posting it in the first place.
In a way, criticizing someone through a screen is cyberbullying. For example, Justine Sacco tweeted something that was taken out of context and it became viral. People were enraged. Some tweeters posted some very negative things to her, not knowing the context of the tweet. In the end, Sacco’s series of tweets got her fired. She cried all the time and felt horrible that she did not have the opportunity to explain herself. Putting someone under that much of distress because of a post that was taken out of context is cyberbullying and if those tweets were not taken out of context, why would people want to stoop to her level? Sacco was not the only one cyberbullied off social media. Referee John Higgins deleted his page entirely due to all the negative comments and backlash to what people thought were bad calls during a game. He even got death threats.
In the article, The Invaluable Service of TrollBusters, it discusses having monitors of online bullying. I think that is a great idea. Sometimes we need someone to check ourselves and help us realize that our actions are hurting others. For example, I am currently an active member of Delta Delta Delta and we have a sister that monitors our Facebook pages. If we have anything that is inappropriate (for example, alcohol present underage, red solo cups and a picture that show obvious intoxication) shown on our social media, we will get a message telling us to take it down. Tri Delta not only has this bylaw in place due to wanting the sorority to look good but also to keep their member accountable for their actions. Many future employers will look at our social media accounts and they do not want to see inappropriate content. People need someone to keep them accountable for their actions.
When we feel outraged by social media we should speak our mind, but in a way that can facilitate change or can be portrayed in a positive light. Social media should be a tool that we can use to make a change and getting people angry and riled up is not the way to do that.
The TED talk of Monica Lewinsky is a great example of situations being taken out of context and the situation of cyberbullying. At the beginning of the talk, she recognizes her faults saying that she is only human and everyone makes stupid decisions when they are young. The best way to turn those bad decisions into positive outcomes is to understand the faults and learn from them. People were viciously threatening her and her world had been turned upside down. She explains that some things were taken out of context making her life even more precarious than it already was. Social media took the situation to a whole new level.
I do not think that we can make social media a more compassionate place. People are going to state their opinions that others do not like. People lash out. I do not think people stay away from social media due to public shaming. I think people like to read about dramatic things and public shaming is a dramatic thing. I was one of the last people in my high school class to get a Facebook and I felt out of the loop when it came to the normal high school drama. I had no idea what was going on until I got a social media. I do think people reward others for being snarky and mean because we all talk about the latest drama the next day. Those snarky mean people got attention and the only way to stop this epidemic is by not giving them the time of day. Don’t talk about it.