Where Social Media Crosses the Line

Hannah Webb, Staff Writer

Social media is something we all use in today’s age. Between Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and perhaps even Facebook, there’s certainly a multitude of outlets for us to express our opinions, thoughts, and stand up for different causes. Social media can be used for great things, which can be seen by any number of the movements started by social media users such as the #HeForShe movement or the calls to action expressed under the hashtag #Ferguson after the St. Louis shooting.

However, there comes a point where social media really crosses the line. I know the simple surface dangers of social media have been drilled into you so many times by this point that you’d probably rather do hours of (God forbid) APUSH reading than listen to them again.

“Don’t put your location on social media, a creepy 45-year-old man is going to find you,” or “don’t talk to people you don’t know online; they’ll show up at your house at night.” But the problems I see most often on social media aren’t the ones they drill into you in middle school, though in my opinion they are on the same level in terms of severity.

One such problem is the need some users feel to put their entire lives on social media. Yes, this is a problem in terms of the normal problems with social media they teach you in middle school, but it goes further than that. It’s not an issue of some creepy old man finding out where you live, but an issue of personal privacy that goes deeper than we often consider.

Publishing every single detail of your daily activities and feelings on social media ruins your life in more aspects than one. It’s completely true that intimacy, relatability, and emotion are important characteristics to have, and they’re important in personal relationships. However, such a deep intimacy level with the masses to where everyone knows every single gritty detail of what you may be experiencing in life is a different story.

It’s neither a wise decision to make nor a practical solution to a problem. Social media users are often victim to impulsivity, and don’t consider the consequences that come from their actions. While at the time you may not believe that many people will see your posts, things spread quickly in today’s time, faster than you realize.

With every detail of your life on social media comes judgement from others. It’s a simple, unchangeable fact that people judge others, and it’s a simple fact that no one is immune to such judgement.

Of course some judgement is normal in life and it must be dealt with. But to put oneself through additional judgement over every single detail of one’s life is unhealthy, and judgement is unavoidable when your entire life is online for anyone to see. Not only will it hurt for everyone to judge your lifestyle and decisions, but you’ll lose your own identity trying to please the masses. It will only ever lead to dissatisfaction.

While the judgement factor is a huge part of the social media issue, there’s more to it than just that. It plays on the concept of the “subtweet” that I’m sure you’ve all heard of. For those of you that may not be aware, a subtweet refers to someone without specifically mentioning them. It embodies a social phenomenon that I’ve never truly been able to comprehend.

I’m referring to the idea that we as humans are often so reluctant to tell others when we have a problem with them. It solves nothing to just sit, building anger and hate over a small issue that could probably easily be solved by simply addressing the problem with the other person involved. There’s at least a chance of a problem being fixed by talking it out with the person you’re in conflict with, but there’s no chance of it being solved if all you’re ever willing to do is tweet about it and never directly bring it up face-to-face with the other person involved.

Subtweeting and other such forms of passive-aggressive social media posts ruin our abilities to communicate with other people effectively. It permeates society and has created a culture of hate rather than the culture of love the world desperately needs. It’s neither mature, effective, or in any way respectable.

We’ve become comfortable only typing things out, and unable to say things to others in real scenarios, person-to-person. The ability to have real conversations with others is a skill we need to re-gain, because the real conversations we have with people face-to-face are often the most memorable experiences in our lives.

While social media may be a useful tool for communication and can be helpful in creating connections between people, it can also ruin personal connections. Social media when used unwisely can not only destroy our abilities to communicate, but it can also bring unhealthy behaviors to light and incite hate among those involved in its misuse. As a population we need to learn how to use social media in the most effective way possible to benefit society instead of tearing it down.