Social Media in a Nutshell

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Just when I thought I couldn’t learn more about the internet, I was proven that I in fact could this semester in Social Media class. Of all the things I learned, however, the biggest thing is just how important social media can be for anyone’s success within the Journalism, Media and Computing industry, and just about any other industry in general.

Before this class I had a basic understanding of how social media can be used as a way of seeing if an employer would be interested in hiring you or not, and as a way of networking and making connections with those people who you would want to be working for. LinkedIn is the best tool for this kind of networking, and this semester I learned about it’s importance within the work industry in trying to make yourself known to the world. At first I never put much thought into having a fully-fledged LinkedIn profile, and only had minimal information about myself and my past work experiences. However, after having had a profile for half a year now, I can see just how important it is to build those relationships with not only your peers, but with other professors, faculty, and acquaintances. But that was only one of the things I learned for this class.

This biggest lesson that I took from this class can pretty much be summarized into three words; Don’t Be Stupid. It’s not that hard to simply use common sense with social media, and to always think “Is this an okay-thing to post?” or “Would this upset anyone?” or “Does this sound stupid?” before making any kind of public post. A lot of what we learned about in class was learning from PR disasters from other companies that were mercilessly berated on social media for saying something inappropriate, or responding to a controversial event in not very well thought out way. Thankfully, because of these mishaps, we were able to learn what NOT to do when it comes to social media.

Overall, I enjoyed taking this class this semester. Getting the opportunity to do real-life work for an on-campus client was pretty exciting. I never thought I’d be making a social media plan for an alumni association as a graphic design major, but just having that experience makes me feel more prepared and qualified for a position in the design field. In addition, just learning new things about social media, the fields of journalism, and the web in general were all very interesting. I look forward to putting all my newly-learned knowledge to good use in the upcoming future.

Using Keyboards as Weapons

Have you ever read the comment section of a controversial social media post, article, or YouTube video? If not, the best advice I can give you before going into one of those comment sections is this:

Don’t.

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A lot of times when someone does something that the internet deems bad, stupid, disgusting, or any emotion that can incite a negative reaction, users on social media are not afraid to let the person in question know how they really feel. And a lot of times, there’s zero censorship or boundaries involved when online users voice their opinions on something. These kinds of posts can cause users to go from berating the poster in question, to unwarranted hostility.

Take Justine Sacco for example. When Twitter users caught wind of her offensive tweet on her way to Africa, it caused a massive storm of hate directed straight for her. While the trending #HasJustineLandedYet was more meant to publically shame Sacoo, other users went above and beyond the shaming, and not in a good sense. Many of these commenters undoubtedly had hate-filled messages, and sometimes could be threatening, causing Sacco to feel unsafe for her life.

This is an unfortunate pattern with aggressive commentators on social media; many people who comment threatening messages on other people’s posts don’t often realize that there is another person behind the screen that reads every single one of the messages they receive. It’s as simple as one human being being hateful and violent to another human being and not feeling any kind of remorse for the words said to them. But it’s very easy for people to disassociate the thought of another person reading their messages when hundreds or thousands of other people are doing the same thing. They may not realize it, but jumping on a bandwagon full of hate is a form of cyber-bullying.

It is unfortunate that the internet does seem to reward those who “shame” others on the web. In fact, some websites simply live for that shaming alone. Take Reddit, for example. Many users on Reddit earn “upvotes” simply for being snarky and making mean comments to other users, or joining on bandwagons that attack unpopular, big name figureheads. In some cases, the act of making snarky, rude comments to each other is simply for comedic value, as is the case for the subreddit “Roast Me,” where users ask other users to, as stated in the title, roast them. In less lighthearted cases, there can be subreddits that support hate-speech against certain people, including subreddits like “Fat People Hate,” which the admins of Reddit banned from the website, along with several other subreddits, as a response to their new anti-harassment policies.

So there is an absolute difference in being mean and snarky in a humorous, playful way, as opposed to the often times hate-filled, threatening way that some users on social media may experience. It’s hard to say what the solution is to a problem this big, as this can happen on any type of website, whether it be social media, blogs, news sites, etc.. But in Monica Lewinsky’s case, it is possible to overcome the hate and grow stronger from it. She showed that despite how much hate you receive, you can still continue your life to becoming a successful person in the world.

In this new day and age of social media, it may be important to look back at an old adage and make one small adjustment: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words…”

…but words can have a bigger impact than you think.