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Our Digital Footprint is Larger Than We Think

Isabelle Barrett, Staff Writer

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Our society has become one of instant gratification. Thanks to technology, we can now have anything our hearts desire delivered to our doorstep with the touch of a button. As a result, we have become numb to anything that doesn’t immediately or directly affect us personally. Consequences are rarely considered. 

Social media has erased responsibility from our lives. Anyone from anywhere can hide behind a screen and write whatever they want for the entire world to see. The internet allows us to speak without having to face a person’s reaction or being held accountable. And even though an online post has a lifespan of forever, we don’t feel the effects our words have on others. 

One person’s mistake can go viral in minutes. For example, while visiting the Arlington National Cemetery, Lindsay Stone posted a photo of herself posed next to a sign which asked for “silence and respect,” pretending to scream. Stone and her friend had an ongoing joke playfully disobeying signs and documenting it. This time, however, she took the joke too far. A month later, her phone blew up with responses. Rarely leaving her house, she spent the next year suffering insomnia and depression. 

Just like Stone was unaware of how her photo could be taken offensively, those who sent her hateful comments didn’t see the impact their words had on her. The internet is an unforgiving place. A study from Florida Atlantic University found that 34 percent of students claimed to have been bullied online at least once in their lifetime and 17 percent explained that they’d been bullied sometime within the past 30 days.

In January, Barnstable Public Schools’ Superintendent Meg Mayo-Brown received over one hundred replies to her tweet addressing the possibility of a snow day. Stating that the district was planning to open at regularly scheduled times, she continued, “If our plan needs to be altered, we will provide additional updates via email, automated phone calls, and social media. For our procrastinators, time to get homework done!”

Soon, she was ambushed with replies from angry students, expressing her displeasure with her choice. The tweets ranged from the mild “I strongly disagree with this decision” to profanity, insults, and even impersonation of school officials. 

What some fail to realize is the light their tweets showcase  them in. As students, one of our largest complaints is not being taken seriously or treated as adults. How can we expect to be shown the respect we don’t give? 

The immaturity of these responses does not help our case. 

Even after this incident is long and forgotten, the tweets will still be there, available for anyone to see, including future employers and colleges. What do these tweets say about our character? What kind of example are we setting?

Again, the rise of technology has desensitized us to the results of our actions, resulting in a lack of empathy. Unfortunately, we live in a world of tragedy; everyday seems to bring a new devastation. And when these events do occur, Twitter overflows with tweets from saddened users. But how much of an impact does a tweet really have? 

During these tragedies,  we send out a tweet, grieve for a day or two, and move on. Not to say that this isn’t a thoughtful gesture, but at the same time, however, the ability to send our thoughts instantly to the masses reduces our motivation to actually get up and make a change. 

So, it is important to be mindful of what you send out. Tweets, Instas and Snaps never actually go. There is nothing wrong wrong with expressing yourself or your ideas, but be aware of how you present yourself online. 

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