Social Media: A Social Malignancy?
I read a story about the suicide of a freshman at Rutgers after his roommate allegedly streamed a sex tape of him online.
This and other instances of cyberbullying that lead to tragedy or death prompted me to ask the question: Is social media a malignancy for society?
Can we imagine a world without social media? It has enabled people to connect with friends outside of their physical environment. It enables us to break news at unprecedented rates and to have dialogue and engage on any number of issues.
I for one am an avid social media user — I mean look at me, I am using Technorati. I see its importance in providing me an outlet to voice my opinions on issues, and it is often the source from which I draw my first look at news.
I am all for sharing and speaking my mind. But what if the cornerstone of social media — the aspect of sharing amongst new networks — is also its greatest drawback?
Like the gift of Midas's Touch - what works for good can also be a detriment.
For instance, the Facebook Thug who is willing to share vicious statuses about someone but would likely not repeat this in person, is somehow compelled to use this public space as an emotional weapon. So what would embolden them here?
Like a shield from morality and decency, social media can allow individuals to disconnect with humanity and treat those with whom they interface as nothing more than another computer terminal — devoid of emotion, responding predictably to the push of a button.
Stories such as the one above illustrate that it is possible the filter we use in our daily conversation is somehow altered when we sit in front of a PC or pick up our mobile phones.
While it might be melodramatic to say that social media is some malignant force that is corrupting all that is good in society, it is interesting how the role of social media has taken on a grotesque symbiosis with bullying these days.
Is it our responsibility, as social media users, to demand and respect the Golden Rule?