“Would you say that to my face?”

By Jasmyn Guzzetti

(Jason Howie/ Daily Collegian)
(Jason Howie/ Daily Collegian)

I’m a social media junkie. 
I can admit that I have almost every form of popular social media on my phone, and every day, multiple times a day, I check them.

Even as I sit here writing this, my phone is lighting up with updates from Twitter and Facebook that I’ll check when I’m done. 
Social media has become a huge part of everyone’s lives. As I walk around campus and sit in class, all I see is people checking their various forms of social media. They will refresh it every couple of minutes to see if something new has happened or changed, often missing the majority of the lecture. While this may sound judgmental, I can assure you it is not. I often fall prey to the urge to check my social media accounts, even if I know nothing has changed.

With the surge in technological advancements, a whole new world has opened up to us that was unavailable before. All of a sudden, we have a way to contact people all around the world with the push of a button. We can be updated on current events, the lives of our favorite celebrities and even the random thoughts of our friends at a moment’s notice. However, as great as this all seems, it is a double-edged sword.

While it’s true that social media has opened up a world of opportunity for us, it has also changed people’s attitudes and ways of living. With the emergence of social media came the blessing and curse of anonymity and distance. Before social media, if you wanted to say something to someone, you had to tell them in person, which left no doubt about who delivered the message. Now, we can do, say and be anyone and anything online. We no longer have to see someone in person in order to tell them something. Now, we can tag them in a post or message them. The catch? We no longer have to present our true identity.

Suddenly, we have the ability to state our opinions without them being tied to us. Some social media outlets have capitalized on this (Yik Yak), and others have simply made it an option (Tumblr), but either way it’s not a good thing.

The issue with being anonymous is that people have used it as a way to spread hate and target people they don’t like without repercussions. People feel bolder online, and use that newfound boldness to say all the things they wouldn’t normally say to people. It’s a whole new world for us, and of course we’ve found a way to make it miserable. While there may be some people that use their anonymity as a way to try and help people, there are others that use it as a way to terrorize others. According to the CDC’s 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, “during the 12 months before the survey, 14.8% had been electronically bullied”, a percentage that has been steadily climbing since the emergence of social media. However, these are only the numbers for the people who reported their experiences, and the sad truth is that most of it goes unreported.

So the next time you go to say something online, ask yourself: “would I say it to their face?” If the answer is no, just remember what Thumper’s mom (from the Disney movie Bambi) always used to tell him: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Jasmyn Guzzetti is a collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]