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Blog: The dark side of social media

Blog by Sam Thomson.

It’s hard to imagine much damage could be done with a keyboard, let alone take a life.

Unfortunately though it seems that its more commonly being used a weapon. People are using social media to attack theirs peers and celebrities online, and it is having some very serious effects. Charlotte Dawson is the latest victim, she took her own life after she could no longer handle being ridiculed online. It’s happening in schools as well, Stephanie Garrett, a 15 year old from Palmerston North took her own life after suffering online bullying. She was targeted by fellow students through Facebook and Twitter.


Social media made the world smaller by connecting people from all over the world. It’s a revolution. 


But it appears that bullying has increased; perhaps social media is the problem?


I don’t think the finger can be pointed at anyone; this is just another generational evolution. Sadly, the type of bullying that has become so prevalent on social media has always existed. It is now amplified because of the instant access to information and peoples ability to voice their opinion on a public platform so easily. 


Take the constant criticisms of celebrities; this is certainly not something new. People in the spotlight have always been the easiest to attack, and before social media gossiping about celebs would be how people discussed their opinions. Now we have been gifted the ability to ‘think out loud’ but in a dangerously public way, and that seems to be how the new generation vents.




The same goes for the other forms of bullying, student’s picking on other students has been happening in the playground since schools have existed. It has now just evolved into the digital forum. It has actually made the whole process easier and more efficient, and most importantly it removes the concept of a moral filter. This is why people can sit behind their keyboards and computer screens and type exceptionally cruel things they probably wouldn’t say in real life. The absence of human interaction makes the bullying seem less real, and therefore so are the consequences.

The consequences are still very real, and the examples discussed are just the tip of iceberg. However it could be argued that social media is a doubled edge sword. As discussed it has negative aspects, but in a positive way it is bringing to light issues that would normally go undetected. The ‘Roastbusters’ were made infamous after they boasted online about raping and having sex with underage girls. Scarily this probably happens in society more often than you’d like to think, but it goes unreported. Because it was displayed on such a public forum it gained huge media attention, which prompted the police to act and has raised awareness for such crimes.

My view of social media is that it is a tool, and like all tools it must be used responsibly. When it is used as it was designed it can be extremely powerful, and from someone who has been working in digital marketing I realise the scope of that power. However if its used irresponsibly it can be dangerous, and unfortunately Charlotte Dawson is only the latest tragic example of this.  Education is vital, especially to the next generation who are being raised surrounded by social media. 

Social media is undeniably awesome, but some people need to learn to holster their keyboards.


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