Students weigh in on the consequences of social media

Melissa Bushong, Reporter

Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook are just a few ways that teenagers are connected to the world.  Although some of these sites are designed to only allow posts to be displayed for a few seconds or more, what happens to those images or statements could possibly affect someone for a lifetime.

It has become more common for people to use these mediums to hurt people, without real life interaction. Things like this allow people who would normally not communicate with each other to do so, and this can lead to actions that can emotionally harm people. This is cyberbullying.

Junior Lexi Dewester has experienced cyberbullying firsthand. When she was a freshman, images of her were posted online on social media without her consent, and those images resurfaced her sophomore year. These images were reposted over and over by multiple people.

“I got exposed and I would get made fun of online from that all the time,” Dewester said.

She says the cyberbullying she experienced was so bad that she didn’t even want to come to school after the harassment.

“I wouldn’t want to come to school because I was embarrassed and I was terrified…,” Dewester said. “It was non-ending,”

Dewester is not the only one to fall victim to cyberbullying. According to SHS social worker Jorie DePalma, harassment such as targeting insecurities with the aim to embarrass someone happens very often, but it’s not commonly spoken of. DePalma says that anybody can be greatly affected by social media, and although some aspects of this social networking medium may prove to benefit one person, it can also harm others.

Cyberbullying is very similar to normal bullying, however it can be much more difficult to get away from due to the fact that it does not go away. It can also make the target feel very isolated and cause a lot of distress, according to DePalma.

“I don’t think it’s unlike other types of bullying in terms of the emotional effect that it has on people,” DePalma said. “I think it’s just harder to get away from.”

Some may struggle to understand why people bully online, but for junior Sam Batchelor, it is not as serious or harmful as most perceive cyberbullying to be.

According to Batchelor, some people have used social media as an opportunity to force people to feel sorry for them, but there are also those who really do need help from their loved ones or someone to care. However, he explains that most often, he sees teens acting like victims, and said that they do it for attention.

“I get that it’s (their situation) hard for them and that it’s something bad that happened to them,” Batchelor said. “It’s them begging for attention and that’s what kind of bothers me and I don’t have sympathy for people like that.”

DePalma and Dewester both believe that it is very important to take caution when posting online, because it is not something that can be taken down as easily as it is put up. They warn it is easy to become oblivious to what could potentially become harmful until the cyberbullying is already happening and it’s too late.