Social media, in a vacuum, is an incredible invention that has the ability to connect people from around the world who would probably never communicate with each other in normal circumstances. As happens with a lot of good ideas, though, reality has a way of turning something positive into a negative.
The same technology that connects everyone is used to spread spiteful messages, demeaning images and other forms of hate. Unfortunately, social media wars sometimes spread into real life. That’s what happened last week at Brunswick High, according to Glynn County Schools Police.
Two students at the school, a 15-year-old and a 16-year-old, got into a feud online about a boy.
It’s not the first time that such a conflict has happened and it won’t be the last, but the situation was magnified by social media.
The two girls taunted and made threats at each other on Facebook. People on Facebook began to take sides in the matter and that all boiled over in the cafeteria of Brunswick High early on the morning of May 10.
A large fight broke out between the two girls and their friends in the cafeteria. One of the girls, Schools Police Chief Rod Ellis said, opened a cafeteria door to let in some adult-age people from off-campus to help her.
The spark that ignited the fight came from social media.
“A lot of this came from Facebook,” Ellis said. “Trouble started brewing off campus and ended up on campus the following morning. We had a student that let other people in a side door to come in the building to come to the fight. We ended up charging 15 people in this. There may be more.”
Ten of those charged in the fight were students. The most disturbing part of the fracas is the fact that unauthorized people were allegedly let into the school for the purpose of fighting. With the recent spate of heinous shootings in schools nationwide, that detail is extremely worrisome.
The fight puts a spotlight on something not enough people realize — how you treat people matters, even on social media. Some who read the story will probably blame how much teens use social media.
The truth is this problem isn’t limited to teens. There are plenty of adults who have no problem stirring up trouble on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Do you expect an impressional teen who is still developing a sense of right and wrong to act any differently than the other people who get into arguments on social media?
The simple fact is we all need to do a better job on social media. Adults need to lead the way and set an example for the younger generation. We need to teach kids, teens and young adults that this kind of behavior isn’t worth the trouble it brings.