Sarah Lynn Butler was a thriving seventh grader living in Hardy, Arkansas. She had just been voted queen of an upcoming Fall Festival, and was teased at school, later receiving bullying messages on her MySpace page. These messages were extremely degrading. On September 26, 2009, Butler’s parents came home to find that their precious daughter had killed herself.
Have you ever thought what it would be like for you to lose a friend, family member, or classmate because they were bullied on the Internet? Your whole life would come crashing down. This madness, living our lives through social media, has got to stop!
There are people out there who use social media as their way of communicating with people and have lost touch with how to talk to people in person. It is a lot “easier” to talk to people over the Internet than it is to talk to people in person because you do not actually have to look at someone’s face when you are using social media. So people who primarily communicate through the Internet have lost their sense of “people skills.” They have not been participating in face-to-face interaction.
I was not raised this way, and I know most people in my generation, and all the generations before me, were not either. I was taught to look at people in the eyes when you speak to them, to shake people’s hands, and to always say “hi.” Now, society lives through their computer. Your life is not lived to its full potential if you don’t say hi to people, shake people’s hands, and give lots of hugs…and these things are not possible through the Internet.
People have this idea that they can do whatever they want on social media. They think that just because it is over the Internet, it will not hurt someone’s feelings. You might post something that was meant to be sarcastic, but others might not understand that you are kidding. When I post something, I always ask myself, “Could this be read in a way that it would make me look bad?” There have been so many cyber bullying stories that result in awful things.
On CNN.com, Sameer Hinduja, co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, said people have a strange bravery on the Internet – but what you say online hurts just as much as if you said it to a person’s face. “Behind a keyboard or the textpad of their phone, and physically distant from the victim, emboldens [cyber bullies] and frees them from normal constraints on their behavior such as their conscience, morals, social norms, and the law,” said Hinduja.
As a teenager and a social media user, the things people put online fall into different categories. They might be something pointless, or funny, or informative, or down-right evil. I would have to say that I see more mean things on the Internet than nice. I have seen people call others horrible names or post embarrassing pictures of them that I know the person would not want the whole world to see. The harm people cause when using social media is truly alarming. How does a person in their right mind think that posting something mean about another person would in any way benefit them?
As a Catholic, I believe social media can dull our beliefs. People who claim to be practicing Catholics, who go to church and value their faith, do not present themselves that way online. They have a completely different identity on social media. If you are going to be a Catholic, BE a Catholic! Do unto others what you want done unto you. Practice your faith fully; whether you are at school, church, work, or on the Internet.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I find Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and many others to be fun and useful to keep in touch with people. However, I know that is not how everyone uses it.
Our society is being taken over by social media, but don’t let social media take over you.
Do not let the Internet make you believe things are okay when you know deep down it is not. Be smart on the Internet; don’t let it turn you into someone you are not.