Before I begin this hopefully brief commentary, I should probably preface this by saying that as a senior in high school with less than a month left until all my i’s are dotted and my t’s are crossed for the last time, I feel like I’ve genuinely learned a lot about not only myself, but also about my peers and the way in which we communicate with one another.
Although I’m definitely one to shy away from being the center of attention, I would like to take a moment to comment on the perceptible, and even imperceptible changes, I’ve made just in the last couple of years. For example, I vividly recollect my freshman year, where I was just a slightly-taller-than-average 14 year old shuffling through the complex assortment of hallways and classrooms, where completing my homework seemed to be the only thing on my mind, aside from being perfectly content on just keeping any and all thoughts to myself, even if it was something that probably should have been said.
However, as time went on, the natural course of events seemed to take place. Friendships blossomed (insert the corresponding ASL sign for affection here- you know who you are) and even grew distant at times, teacher-relationships evolved into pleasant camaraderies of sorts, AP/DC classes often seemed impossible to actually persevere through, multiple leadership positions were fulfilled simultaneously, and more. As my anxiety levels began to dwindle, my self-confidence seemed to make me stand out from my peers as someone who didn’t care what other people thought about me, and to speak up whenever something didn’t seem justified in my eyes. With all of these events culminated together, I truly believe I am now at a point where I am the most honest and outspoken version of myself that I can possibly be, and as a result, have never felt more content and overwhelmingly happy.
However, having noticed the behavior and daily communication that takes place among my fellow classmates, primarily on social media platforms such as Twitter, there are several things that I have noticed that are a little concerning, to say the least. These include:
Do some students genuinely feel as though they are somehow “invincible” while online, and that no one could ever screenshot that particular tweet, photo, or conversation? Whether you believe it or not, once you post something online, it’s out there. You can choose to delete it later, but that doesn’t mean that your decision didn’t affect other people, even if it’s something that seems meaningless, such as sending a snap. There are some people who seem to post whatever comes to mind whenever they want, which could just start the chain reaction for an ongoing and/or unnecessary Twitter dialogue that would never actually take place in person. Whether this is because some people gain an enormous amount of confidence simply by logging onto a social media platform, I can’t say with certainty.
Is Twitter essentially turning into a digital version of “ding dong ditch”, where unflattering statements are exchanged in a frenzy of hostility, only to be deleted moments later? And what are the implications of these comments, both online and in person, depending on whether a person owns up to their decisions?
Can a person’s level of respect be diminished simply because they don’t demonstrate appropriate social media etiquette? Is there such a thing as social media etiquette? In other words, if you were to do a holistic review of the content that you have posted on your social media accounts, would you be embarrassed or regret anything you have said or done? Of course, this is subject to interpretation, however you may be creating an image of yourself that might not be the most accurate representation of your true character.
Now I’m not saying certain social media platforms are inferior to others, nor am I saying that everything that is posted online by teenagers is derogatory or of little significance. However I do think that there are certain things to keep in mind when you have a Twitter, Snapchat, or Instagram account, such as understanding the impact of your “digital footprint”, and if you are thinking about posting something that you know you would not say in person, maybe try to re-word your idea, or just don’t say anything. After all, discretion is the better part of valor.