Hashtag War

Alyssa Pavelka, Staffer

Everyone uses social media.

Well, maybe “everyone” is too strong of a word, but it’s certainly close enough.

It has been estimated that by 2020 over 200 million people in the United States alone will be using some type of social media.

That is a whole slew of eyes, about 400 million, if we want to be specific.

According to the 2016 United States Census Bureau, there were 323.1 million citizens in the U.S., and obviously that number has grown. Still, more than half of the population of the U.S. uses social media.

We have more connection to each other now than ever before, and yet I don’t recall there ever being so much hate. Many people, mostly the younger generations, are constantly fighting with others, and it’s equivalent to cyber-bullying, which is illegal in at least 34 states.

I know. I know. Someone like me, who doesn’t have social media, wouldn’t understand the dreadfully, severe crimes of the tweet someone said about “Sally’s new haircut,” or “Jake’s new Air Jordans.”

What does it even matter?

The only opinion someone should worry about is their own opinion of themselves.

Besides, if someone’s comment bothers you, just block them. That’s what the button is there for.

I recently had the displeasure of being witness to one of these Twitter civil wars. Well, I suppose it was a Snapchat civil war, between my 14-year old cousin and some guy she will probably never see again.

No, I don’t appreciate some kid talking smack about my cousin, but what came next made me exceedingly uncomfortable. I was riding in the passenger seat with our 19-year old cousin, who was driving our younger cousin, her two best friends, and me back home from the mall. The three girls in the back started getting all upset about this guy my cousin knew about at her old school, who said I don’t even know what, something about her not being cute or whatever.

Apparently, he posted it on his story, and before my cousin could reply to this ‘outrageous’ offensive comment, one of her friends grabbed her phone and was about to “put the hurt on this kid.”

She asked my older cousin if it was okay for her to say a few unsavory words to the poor guy, and my sweet, overwhelmed cousin said yes. Neither one of us was prepared for the words that come out of that 14-year old girl’s mouth.

Needless to say, it was about a minute of straight profanity and demeaning words that even I would never say to anyone. No matter how mad someone made me, I would have enough sense to defend myself, instead of letting someone else do it for me.

I know that no one likes crude words being said about them, but apparently in this day and age, ignoring or blocking a “troll” is a flashy accessory that everyone seems to forget about.

You don’t have to like every single person you meet, and they may not like you either, but that’s no reason to attack them or acknowledge their ignorance. No, you can’t always avoid a bully in person, but you can avoid a cyberbully.

In these times, the world seems to be full of hate and sadness, and spreading it on social media, for the whole world to see, doesn’t help cure the hateful disease that’s spreading. I feel social media was created to help people communicate, because it’s easier to send a text or call, than to send a mail carrier on horseback.

I ask this as a human being – for everyone to be kind to others whether you know them or not.

As one species, we have had our fair share of war and bloodshed. I would think we would come to a point of understanding how precious life is. Instead, people seem to throw out words of death and suicide as if it will never happen to them or someone they know.

So, if you choose to use social media, do it for a good reason. One kind word to someone who needs to hear it could save a life.