It is a platform to express all the things you can’t say or don’t have the confidence to say in person. The options are limitless and there are no boundaries. I present: social media. Although not everyone uses social media for the same reasons, it does have similar effects.
If you are not familiar with the term “Internet troll,” it is defined as a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting quarrels or upsetting people by posting inflammatory, extraneous or off-topic messages in an online community. Another example of those who negatively impact the Internet community are catfish — people who set up a false personal profile on a social networking site for fraudulent or deceptive purposes. These two terms are connected through one common factor: both trolls and catfish hide behind social media.
According to the Huffington Post, the key signs for detecting a troll are uses of foul and derogatory language, the inability to listen to reason, lack of personal pictures and quickly posting or replying to messages, indicating large amounts of free time. This fuels dangerous rhetoric and a toxic Internet environment. As reported by the Penn State pschology department, a study in a Taiwan high school deduced that anonymity within an online presence increased the levels of cyberbullying. This proves the threat of hiding behind social media.
Catfishing is so common now that there is even an MTV show dedicated to it. Catfishing usually occursromantically and can act as a hindrance to others trying to seek a partner. People take pictures from other sources and use them to portray themselves as a desired partner. As seen on the show, the actual person is almost always the total opposite of their online persona.
The characteristics of the person behind the screen are also important. According to Psychology Today, the human brain doesn’t give as much emotional stimulation to a computer as it does to a living and breathing person. This realization may come as a no brainer, but these results speak volumes as to why we act the way we do on social media sometimes.
Specifically on Instagram or Twitter, we are more likely to like or retweet something we wouldn’t share in real life. For instance, if someone posts a controversial comment with a hashtag or meme, it’ll be trending on Twitter instantly. There is a sort of freedom and separation between reality and social media. In our generation, there is a pressure to be or act a certain way and when you can’t showcase it in real life, the only place you have is through social media. It creates an internal dilemma but should be addressed personally. Why can’t I act like this outside of my screen? Who am I away from it?
Freshman journalism major
Printed in the 2/7/18 issue.