Social media has connected us all in ways that couldn’t have been imagined just a decade ago, making the world a much smaller place. While there are many positive aspects to the social media revolution, there are downsides as well.
Ideally, people would look at their online lives as an extension of their lives in the real world, but that is not always the case. Too often, people say things online that they would never say to someone in a face-to-face setting. While this is true of people who use their real identity, the most vitriolic (and often times disgraceful) things said online tend to come from those who believe that they are operating behind a cloak of anonymity.
In a high profile story recently involving former major leaguer, Curt Schilling, it was proven that people aren’t nearly as anonymous as they believe, and that online actions have real world consequences.
Like many proud parents, Schilling took to social media to brag about his daughter’s accomplishment. His message on Twitter was fairly innocuous, but the replies that he received from a number of people were quite the opposite. You have to believe that these extremely crass messages aimed at Schilling’s daughter would never have been said in a face-to-face setting, nor would they have been posted online if they believed that their identities would be so easy to discover.
Schilling, who has greater financial means and social clout than the average person, did not use either to track down his daughter’s cyberbullies. According to Schilling, it took him less than an hour to uncover their true identities using nothing more than a Google search.
Cyberbullying is something that takes place at many levels, starting with kids in school. The sad fact is that there are people who feel invincible online. Left unchecked, cyberbullying can escalate just like traditional bullying. The only way to put an end to it is to do something about it. Schilling not only tracked down the identities of the people who were attacking his daughter online, he also took a proactive approach to confront them.
Schilling plans on pursuing all legal options available to him against his daughter’s cyberbullies. After outing two of them on his blog, severe real world consequences were doled out. One was fired from his job with the New York Yankees and the other was suspended from college. According to Schilling, others have faced repercussions for their behavior.
“Think before you hit send” is advice that is often given to professional athletes and celebrities nowadays because so many of them have gotten themselves in trouble, but it is good advice for everyone. We live in a different world today, and even if you are not using social media with malicious intent, the fact of the matter is that one impulsive online moment can have both short and long term consequences in the real world.
One of the biggest challenges today (for most kids) is growing up in a world of constant connectivity. Because of this, they feel comfortable saying things that those from the generations that preceded the social media revolution may think twice about.
There are numerous advantages to spending summers at sleepaway camp, but perhaps the most significant one in this day and age is the face-to-face interactions that take place while “unplugged” for seven weeks.
In addition to having an opportunity to “recharge” (no pun intended), Echo Lake campers also spend their summers immersed in a culture that reinforces good behavior. With a residual effect that lasts throughout the year, the hope is that our campers will “think before they hit send” when they plug back in to the connected world after the summer ends.