Use social media for good, not bad

By on February 29, 2012

Want to know what grinds my gears? There are a few things, which include, but are not limited to: people who like ketchup, but not tomatoes; sharing personal life stories at awkward times; sneakers paired with jeans; and students who walk through a doorway, as you’re just about to open it. The problem with gear-grinding idiosyncrasies and trends, however, is that we all have them, or enforce them.

But, certain things really, truly, greatly, and devilishly, if you will, grind my gears. As of late, it’s using social media to degrade or insult people in 140 characters or less. This sounds like cyber-bullying. Am I making you relive your eighth grade assemblies? Do you feel as if I’m about to transition into a public service announcement for D.A.R.E. after this short commercial break from Sunday’s cartoon special? I feel that way too, so why are people using Twitter to hash out their insecurities through trending topics and smartly crafted hashtags?

Here’s the one thing: We all love to follow twitter accounts and trending topics that adhere to our personal lives, or interest us, whether it’s Angelina’s right leg, the New York Times, or yes, QpacProblems. But when you’re commenting about stereotypes on campus, you’re making false generalizations that do not pertain to the entire student body.

Mostly, I’m talking about tweeting references to the idea that Quinnipiac students are all rich kids with trust funds, who only drive Audi cars and carry around American Express cards. This isn’t true, and it is not a stereotype that is exclusive to our university only. For one, there are students here on scholarship, whether for academics or athletics. There are students here who are working to pay for their own tuition. There are students who value education over how much money their father can “supposedly” donate to the school. When one thinks they are making their fellow students proud of a money-mongering lifestyle, they are actually promoting arrogance, laziness and the total opposite of what any university, including Quinnipiac, strives to be seen as.

Then, there are the frequent tweets about the “ugly” girl you danced with on Saturday. First of all, do you think you look amazing sweating on the dance floor? Also, to the girls who say they feel bad for the people uglier, fatter and more promiscuous (euphemisms seem most appropriate at the moment) than you are, I have an awful feeling that you’re psychologically displacing your own insecurities, fears and anxieties onto those who just have some more confidence than you. Freud would call this projection — I would call this a “let me hug you, and proceed to make you a sandwich” syndrome.

Tweet about your problems. I do it all the time. Tweet about celebrities embarrassing themselves. It’s pretty necessary. Tweet your favorite song. People will care. Just don’t make it a platform to emphasize others’ weaknesses and unreliable stereotypes, especially when you may be subjected to weaknesses and stereotypes of your own.

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