You Are What You Tweet
If one of your friends was angry with you would you rather they go tell everyone about it or would you rather them come straight to you? The answer is pretty simple, right? Practically anyone would rather that their friends talk to them directly than talk about it with anyone else. Why then I wonder does the answer to that question seem more complicated when talking about Facebook or Twitter?
When it comes to social media no one understands it better than today’s teenagers, but with that often comes a lack of good sense and social graces. In other words, teenagers are beginning to use Facebook, Twitter, and blogs as their own personal punching bags resulting in passive aggressive statuses, angry hashtags, and hateful tweets. I knew a girl once who was so happy another girl got dumped by a guy that she went ahead and ‘liked’ the breakup online. Not her finest hour. The fact of the matter is though that had she been in a room with this heartbroken girl there’s no way she would have done anything that heartless. That’s both the beauty and the beast of social media: your comments, ‘likes’, and status updates are all coming from this seemingly anonymous place called your computer; not straight from your lips.
Sadly, it doesn’t end there. Facebook with its display of photos, videos, and personal information is a way that lies are created and often perpetuated. When I was in high school, Facebook was just beginning to turn into what it is today. Even early on though, my friends found a way to manipulate it. One of my best friend’s Christina* went out on a date with a guy from another school. Having met through a mutual friend, they weren’t even Facebook friends yet. For the next couple weeks Christina wondered why their online friendship never took shape until Christina talked to one his close friends. According to the guy’s profile he had a girlfriend at his school, which made sense of why he wouldn’t be Christina’s friend online.
I’ll be the first to say I love social media. It’s fast, informative, entertaining, and can be a great space for creativity. The fact of the matter, however, is that like most things in life when used incorrectly it can cause hurt feelings and misunderstandings. The key to avoiding these mishaps is much like the things your mom would tell you about your words. Remember the old ‘if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all’ well in this case it goes: ‘if you can’t tweet anything nice, then don’t tweet at all’. Same goes for Facebook, your blog, MySpace (for whomever still uses it), and any other social networking site.
You may think right now that all that stuff on your Facebook isn’t serious and for the most part it isn’t. However, what you write on the Internet is traceable. Imagine if your parents had a home video of every meltdown, every argument, and every mean word you ever said all stacked up in the corner of your living room. Well the Internet is sort of the same: with a little bit of digging you can find some serious dirt. In fact, it happens all the time. In case you haven’t been following, a few politicians have recently landed themselves in some serious trouble because of things they’ve done via the Internet.
Everyone knows being a teenager isn’t always easy. You’re growing, maturing, and figuring out who you are. During that time you’re bound to encounter people that make you feel jealous, people to whom you may tell a ‘white’ lie, and people who you just don’t like, but writing something negative about them online won’t help those feelings disappear. That negativity toward them may go away in a year or even a couple weeks. When that happens you’ll be glad you never wrote it on their Facebook walls because like most acts of anger, it’s just not worth it. So when it comes to your social media outlets—use it to make friends, not enemies. Be hilarious, pensive, goofy, serious, romantic, whoever you areand post as many prom pictures as you want (you can never have too many)! Happy tweeting!
Has anyone ever written something about you/to you online that was hurtful? Have you ever regretted writing a certain comment, tweet, or even ‘liking’ something? Tell us about it in the comments!
*name changed to protect the guilty!
Amelia is a senior at American University studying Communication & Spanish and an intern at The National Campaign. She enjoys speaking in a fake British accent, dressing up for no particular reason, and watching Parks and Recreation. Have a question for Amelia? Email us!
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