Look at this picture. Try to suspend judgment. What do you see? Who do you see?
Source: Salon.com, “My embarrassing picture went viral”
I have specifically stated that through my social media education mission I am focused on students and their responsibility on the Internet. Many educators and parents may question my motives, but if grown adults have trouble controlling their hateful behavior on the Internet, what makes any rational authority believe children and emotion-ridden adolescents will have an easier time?
If you still are not convinced that students need to be taught what responsibilities they have on social media networking sites, or simply want another source as evidence that they do need a lesson, please read “My embarrassing picture went viral.” Not only do we need to be aware of what comments we make and post about others, but how to protect ourselves on the Internet. Unfortunately, privacy on social media is an issue and we need to teach students how to properly prevent humiliation on the Internet (from embarrassment, such as Caitlin Seida, or advertisement of a racy photo/post). With the newest Facebook update, each post and picture has its own privacy setting. If you are not careful, it is possible to unknowingly post a personal picture for the public to see, though your profile as a whole is private. Unknowingly, you can post a picture that may be ridiculed by countless students and adults because its setting was not set to private.
Seida has been writing professionally for seven years now and I’m sure not every single one of her articles has been liked. I can say with 99.9% positivity she has faced ridicule for her words and actions before, but never on such a large scale as her Halloween picture. Somewhere she found the strength to face her degraders, facing surprise on the other end. No, just because your profile is private doesn’t mean I can’t see the hateful things you say on a public page. Yes, your words can be read by the person they are written about, even if they are just another nameless stranger. In today’s world, not only do you have to set your profile private to keep strangers from viewing your stuff, but from other people’s degrading and vulgar comments from infiltrating your confidence.
The ironic thing is that these comments were not from catty school girls who were bored after dinner. These comments were from grown women. These women probably had children. Children who may follow the exact same path as their parents because they weren’t taught how to properly conduct oneself on the Internet. Not only does this epidemic affect teens using social media sites, but adults. Though one’s job may not be on suspension due to vulgar posts, it should be. Without consequence, people on the Internet will continue to pursue one minute of a leap in confidence when destroying someone else’s. Without guidelines, people will continue to make mistakes that can affect their future extrafamilial ambitions. Without a break, children, students, and adults alike will continue to abuse social media while ignoring the professional benefits it provides.
Moreover, adolescents using the Internet and social media networking sites (usually beginning in fifth grade or age twelve) do not have a proper role model or guidelines to follow. Instead, they are exposed to older teens and adults alike abusing social media by criticizing others on their appearance or actions and posting pictures that should be left untaken. For more information on this topic, please refer to my post “Where Are the Role Models?” Though many educators understand the impact social media can have on a student’s future, the information needs to now be relayed to the students and the responsibility to make it happen passed to their hands.