To Tweet or Not to Tweet – Living in the age of social media

We live in a world where we are constantly searching for the next big thing; the next big dance craze! the next big hit song! We also live in a world where we can share our thoughts and feelings on any topic with the click of a button, be it one of a positive nature or a negative one. What a power to possess. The power of opinion; the freedom of speech; with the platform of the world to share it with at our fingertips. This article will explore the perks and the pitfalls of living in the age of social media.

With great power comes great responsibility…. or does it?

If you currently have a social media account and participate in conversation about pop culture, then at some point you will have come across its not so pleasant side. For some reason, what was once a place to share updates about what you ate for breakfast or your excitement about a TV show, has now become a place to tear others down if they don’t share the same opinions as you, and to attack people who dare to be different.

Social media gives you a space to form networks around the world with people who share the same interests as you, and this has many benefits. The most popular by far being that, while in real life you may not know anyone who loves knitting, candy floss, or One Direction as much as you, you are guaranteed to find likeminded people online who do. There are two sides to every coin and while being a part of an online group is all good and fun, it has its negatives. The most prominent being it’s alienating culture. Anyone who has had the misfortune of sharing a not so popular opinion about a celebrity may have experienced this first hand. Swarms of loyal fans gather in sinister packs and pounce on you, ensuring they petrify you just enough to know that your opinion is invalid and does not matter, and that you should never again make the mistake of even thinking about sharing it.  This SNL sketch about Beyoncé fans comically shows what future lays before you, should you make the mistake of expressing an unpopular opinion online.

Crossing the line…

All jokes aside, social media, of late, has been breeding unhealthy trends and habits. If you thought the backlash you get for sharing an opinion was bad, wait until you do nothing, and still get stones thrown your way. You can simply be going about your business and living life and out of nowhere someone will come along a drop a mean message in your inbox. For no reason. One of the worst parts about social media is when large groups of people attack an individual for the way they look, or dress, or speak. When they cross the line from humour to hate, all the while hiding behind the protection of their computer screen, their screen name and their icon. What is going to stop you from spurting hateful comments about people if there is a zero percent risk that you will get caught for doing it?

Normani Kordei

An example of the low depths that people stoop to on social media when attacking people is that of the recent situation Fifth Harmony band member, Normani Kordei found herself in after fans misconstrued an answer she gave to a question as an insult to another member of the band. This resulted in hundreds of thousands of horrible messages from fans, many of which were racist. One particular message went as far as to crop a picture of Normani’s face and paste it onto the body of a hanging slave. This behaviour is abysmal and inexcusable.  It shows a lack of moral compass and social boundaries. The fact that somebody could think it was ok to click send on that tweet, let alone think about composing it goes to show that there is a lot of work to be done when it comes to the mental health and wellbeing of today’s society. Notwithstanding, this lead to Kordei taking a break from social media.

Big brother is watching you….

What I think a lot of people who use social media in a negative way fail to understand, is that what you do on the internet is permanent and easily traceable back to you! It stays on there forever. A lot of people are beginning to learn this the hard way, especially when employment comes in to play. More and more, employers are turning to the internet to find information about potential employees and with a simple search of your name, they are able to find a multitude of information about you that you would not conventionally mention in a job interview or include on your CV. An example of this recently occurred when it was announced that Melissa Villasenor would be joining the cast of SNL which prompted her to delete over 2,000 tweets from her account, which were deemed to be offensive. For more information on this watch the video below:

Where do we go from here?

I can only assume that all of these negatives are deriving from a bigger problem at hand. And that is, in my opinion, a lack of self worth. That is the only explanation that I can think of that would drive people to spew hate at others. A deep rooted sense of insecurity, running through the veins of keyboard warriors, fuelling them to ruin the lives of others in order to make themselves feel better about their own lives. This is concerning, not because of the fact that it is hurtful to the victims, but due to the fact that the perpetrators are actually victims in their own right. How is it that there are so many people that think so lowly of themselves, that they reflect their bitterness onto others to make themselves feel better.

This is the bigger issue at hand. I think we all need to be uplifted and reminded of our positive attributes, traits and features, so that we can begin to reflect kindness and positivity onto others, rather than the opposite. It feels great to be complimented so if a culture of friendliness and uplifting each other was encouraged then I believe a lot of these deep-rooted personal issues could be eradicated.

Building on this, I urge you to compliment or say something nice to someone around you today after reading this. Set the ball in motion so that we can make social media more positive before it passes the point of saving.

As always, if you have anything to add, or a critique or just want to say hello, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below, or contact me on Twitter @ChrisCultureUK. I love to receive feedback, whether it is positive or constructive :).

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