Threats, arson, bullying, suspension.
Social media seems to be sparking some very anti-social behavior in our youth.
Just within the past week, the media covered two stories involving students’ behavior and the direct link theses acts had to social media.
In the case of three Rocklin High students, threats thought to be related to gun violence on Twitter led to their arrest. Another group of teens were also arrested for a prank gone wrong, which they posted pictures of on Instagram. It is their decision that set their graduation stage on fire and their post that got them caught.
Although these stories have been highlighted in the news lately, similar yet less extreme incidents happen all the time among youth communities.
One Sacramento high school student recalls such an experience that began with a Twitter conversation.
“A girl called my close friend a (expletive),” said Nicholas Roy, 16. “Once I retorted that same insult to her sarcastically, she brought it to the principal’s office and got us both suspended.”
Many teens agree that it is easier for someone to denounce another publicly on the internet than in real-life.
“I would personally have said what I said regardless just because of the circumstances but I think when it comes to starting drama it is easier to do through social media,” says Roy.
In addition to the average “tweet,” “subtweeting” is a very common Twitter practice where a person makes remark, sometimes cruel, about an unnamed individual. It is often obvious to readers however who is being targeted, and might as well be a public attack like the experience mentioned previously.
Elyssa Damian, 16 admits to being victimized by consistant subtweeting. She chooses not respond to the bullies despite their taunting posts.
“I feel like the person subtweeting feels ‘tough’ since I don’t respond. Since it is a type of bullying, they just make themselves look dumb,” Said Damian.
“It takes a lot but just ignore them,” Damian advises. If you absolutely can’t or if you feel like you are in danger, tell your school because schools are taking cyberbullying very seriously now.”
Matthew Isenhower, a Sacramento-area history teacher, shared his thoughts from an educator’s perspective.
“Threats against our safety pre-date social media, and almost every new development in Western culture for a thousand years has been decried by a few for ‘corrupting the youth,’ says Isenhower. “The very same technology that may make it easier for someone to plan mischief also makes it easier for them to be caught and brought to justice. Society always finds a balance.”
As for the young men who’ve caught the attention of the press, they have been brought to justice. This does not mean that crime and internet abuse won’t continue. If anything, the world should prepare itself to see this trend continue because afterall, we are in an age of technology and still trying to determine how it fits into everyday life.
“Since social media became popular, people have immersed themselves in online communication to fufil their social lives, says local student Christipher Aiello, 18. “They’ve lost touch with the value of face-to-face interactions.”
Unless the world regains its human connectivity, Sacramento can anticipate more social media scares, big and small.