Written by: Chaewon Lee
I’m fairly certain that when Mark Zuckerberg created the social media network Facebook, he didn’t mean for it to become what it is for many teens now: a battlefield for popularity. During a time heavily influenced by technology, teens are constantly on Facebook checking their News Feeds and updating their statuses to make sure they make their mark on online history. Consequently, they spend a lot of time pruning their online-selves to appear as perfect as possible. However, what they do carelessly on the website may instead hurt others or even themselves. The two major Facebook follies? Recklessly posting everything in the heat of the moment and being insulting while trying to be funny.
Teenagers are often so confident in the delete and edit buttons that they post embarrassing or harmful words online without really thinking. They forget that even five minutes of exposure is enough time for hundreds of people to see their post. Students who reveal information carelessly usually do so in the heat of their anger, happiness, sadness, or other strong emotions. For example, people caught up in anger against each other often have degrading verbal fights on Facebook that are completely open for outside parties to see. Accusations bounce back and forth in full view of the online public, and by the next day, everyone at school knows who dumped whom, who pranked whom, etc. Not only is such lack of privacy potentially embarrassing, it becomes fodder for juicy gossip. To avoid such situations, it’s important to stay off of Facebook when not in full control of our emotions.
The obsession with being popular on the social media site has also led to a lot of cyber bullying, intentional or otherwise. Because being funny is seen as the golden ticket to achieving popularity, many students take advantage of Facebook to increase the audience for their witty jokes or sarcastic comments. However, there’s a fine line between being funny and hurtful, and it’s hard to stay on the funny side. Because talking online is physically detached, it’s impossible to see how one’s words affect others. Teasing between friends especially, can become hostile on the Internet.
I experienced this firsthand when one of my friends thought that it would be funny to spread an embarrassing video of me on Facebook. The video was of an unsuspecting me failing miserably at dancing to Kpop at a karaoke party. Of course the video, titled with the caption, “This is what Chaewon does when she skips church,” was sent to all my close friends and recorded completely without my knowledge. When I found out about this not-so-funny joke a few days after the party, I was powerless to take it down because I didn’t post it; untagging myself didn’t help at all either because the video was still viewable by my friends. Needless to say, I didn’t talk to the videographer for quite awhile, and she learned that seconds of online funniness are not worth two months of the silent treatment.
At the end of the day, popularity on the internet is not worth hurting others or ourselves. And contrary to what many teenagers believe, popularity isn’t worth everything. What people really care about when they make friends are traits like niceness, friendliness, and honesty among many others.
Facebook doesn’t need to leave a sour taste in its young users’ mouths; all people need to do is think before they post.