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Is Facebook Making You Mean?

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  • Pages: 4
  • Word count: 821
  • Category: Facebook

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“Ummmmm…ew?” This statement may not seem like a harmful comment, but think about that mixed with a whole barrage of snide and sarcastic comments swallowing a picture you posted on Facebook from your family vacation. The picture was posted just to share an experience with others—who knew it would also cause such hatred from all those “friends” on Facebook? In the article “Is Facebook Making You Mean?,” by Lauren Tarshis one Facebook user named Maya experienced this bullying firsthand. All she tried to do was post a friendly family vacation photo with Mickey Mouse, and she ended up with a line of insults. The article claims that Facebook is a catalyst for communication and sometimes that turns negative. Facebook is built around the idea that people should be able to project themselves and speak their minds, but it seems like some people have taken that privilege too far. I believe that it is important to protect yourself from people with cruel intentions on the internet and Facebook by being selective about who you befriend, how you post pictures, and guidance for how to effectively communicate online.

The biggest issue with Facebook is the fact that people feel entitled to comment about everything. Most comments I have seen are not hateful in nature—most comments are “status updates” about your laundry list and other insignificant things, but all this freedom to express EVERY SINGLE idea leads to some really negative conversations and comments as well. The statistics from I-Safe found in the article “Is Facebook Manking You Mean?” states that 58% of kids say someone has been mean or hurtful to them online, and 53% of kids say they’ve been mean or hurtful to another person online. These statistics prove that over half of people online have cruel intentions or are more likely to express their negativity online. These shocking statistics tell me that we all need to be more selective about who we let into our online community. If people are more likely to say something negative and hurtful online—then we need to weed out some of the people that are most likely to be that way. Even being selective about who you befriend on Facebook doesn’t stop all the negative people from showering their hate onto us, but it is somewhere to start.

Another issue with Facebook is that once you post a picture–it is out there in the online community forever, and all of your “friends” are open to post whatever they would like. The article “Is Facebook Making You Mean?” states that most of our communication is through subtle emotional signals and non-verbal ques. In the online community a sarcastic joke can be taken very seriously if the person doesn’t see the non-verbal communication that would indicate the writer was joking. In the case of Maya from the article, Anna could have been making a joke, but the non-verbal communication was not there to indicate it, so Maya took it very seriously. Unless the writer is very aware of how to create tone in their messages the reader may not catch on to the joke, and a conflict will quickly arise.

To prevent bullying and negative interactions, our youth needs to be trained on how to communicate effectively online. The article “Is Facebook Making You Mean?” states that there are now many in-school workshops to help train people how to communicate effectively to prevent bullying and miscommunication. It seems that half of the people on Facebook have positive intentions, and the article states that “Researchers at the University of Virginia found that the majority of kids use Facebook to build solid friendships and to spread positive messages.” If these people are taught how to communicate effectively it may cut down the percentage of people who receive negative comments online.

Some people would say that people are going to be rude and negative no matter where or what the situation is. Yes, there are going to be negative and cruel people everywhere, but in many cases the people on Facebook may not have meant to be as rude as their comment sounded. If we can train kids how to be safe and use an appropriate tone on Facebook we may prevent a lot of instances from becoming unintentionally negative.

It is important to always know how to protect yourself from predators, so we need to make sure everyone who uses Facebook knows the risks, so they can use the correct privacy settings. We should also make sure students limit the amount of “friends” they have on Facebook. The more friends you have the less “safe” your information on Facebook is. Protecting yourself from predators and negativity makes for a longer happier life. We must train kids how to use Facebook as a place for positive social interactions so we can lower the percentage of people that come across negativity to at least 25%.

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