Does social media provide too much freedom of expression?

Erin Gregory September 19, 2013 0

ocial networks: the new means of reading reports, keeping in contact with friends and finding pictures of cats. Networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, open the Internet and posting abilities to anyone with Wi-Fi. It allows the posting spectrum to cover any and all news, national or personal. But then, how much is too much? Deteriorating friendships, relationship issues, incriminating photos or comments periodically fall into my Newsfeed and the question arises — should I actually care? Or, are these people really “friends?” Regardless, social media has redefined privacy and has become the virtual airing of dirty laundry.

Logging onto Facebook, highlights of different “friends” immediately pop up: relationship statuses, heavily-commented posts or whatever Facebook deemed important. Since it is there, I look. Scrolling through several pages, I learn where so-and-so is eating, who another one is dating and what shenanigans a few of them are getting into tonight. However, these “friends” are people I had, maybe, one class with in high school or worked with when I was sixteen. Either way, I know their whereabouts, but should I? Do they want me to know? What benefits does knowing what random acquaintances are doing have?

With the multitude of posts, one’s bound to irritate another, leading to a social media war. For example: if someone lied to his or her friend or there has been a messy breakup. With Internet access, anyone can type up insulting, or maybe just vulgar, posts and let his or her entire social network witness the turmoil. Facebook allows for replies, providing the attacked to attack back. The cycle is inevitable — someone will post an unpopular opinion and another will post a rebuttal. All the while, bystanders read the comments, forming opinions on the fight on the screen. When the Internet is referred to as the “Worldwide Web,” it isn’t a joke. A single post can entertain hundreds of replies, and then even more individuals who read, but do not post.

The benefits of Facebook are there; that’s undeniable. For instance, families can see pictures of the campus, my new friends and keep in contact when home is too far away. There could also be long distance relationships, platonic, familial or romantic that can benefit from the personalized profiles. Typically, those are acceptable reasons to post private thoughts and photos.

But then, there’s Twitter, where the concept of followers replaces the idea of friends. Twitter strips away the façade of a relationship. Instead, it swaps out full names for an “@” sign and whatever we choose to put following it; then the users are left to their own devices. On one side of the spectrum, there’s CNN, updating its followers on recent news stories, or different musical artists tweeting about their recent tour dates or album releases. Then again, Twitter can be utilized to watch Amanda Bynes continue to spiral into a hole of shame, or “#subtweet” other users who have irritated us that day. And I don’t even have to be near my computer to do so! I have the application not only on my phone, but my iPod, too.

In all seriousness, I have angrily tweeted or posted things on Facebook; I’m as guilty as anyone else. Afterwards, I get texts from my dad asking what it was about and telling me to relax, which only irritates me more. But that’s one of the side effects of baring your emotions to the world — people are going to ask questions, people are going to snoop and people are going to wonder.

It’s entirely your prerogative what you choose to put up because it’s relative to what you find appropriate. Consequently, you need to be able to answer the prodding questions or ignore them. It is one thing to leave the questions unanswered; it is another to get annoyed when they’re asked. Putting your life out there provides the opportunity for others to see it and reply with their own thoughts. It’s almost unfair to lash out at your audience. Yet, some continue to post and negatively react to their responders — never quite learning from their past posts. There are always going to be those people who will use their profiles as a public diary and regardless of whether I disagree with it, they’ll still do it.

Personally, I don’t enjoy seeing my friends post about illegal activities, nor do I like seeing pictures revealing more of their bodies than if I saw them around campus. But that puts the metaphoric ball in my court. I’m not required to see their posts; so, if they become too much of a nuisance, one click of a button and the problem is solved. Then, they still have their public diary, and it’s no longer a concern of mine. Everyone is happy.

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