It’s safe to say that social media has received a fair amount of stick in it’s time. From ‘body shaming’ issues to the so-called blurring of ethical boundaries, our favourite social media sites seem to be in a constant battle between those who love to use them, and those who strongly oppose the negative impacts they can induce.
Every week there seems to be a new ‘outrageous’ trend circulating on social media. In late 2015 thousands of teens took to social media to share what was described as the ‘Kylie Jenner lip challenge’, where girls posted viral videos of themselves using shot glasses to blow up their lips in order to double their size. The effects of this challenge were somewhat disturbing and were described as having horrific scientific consequences as well as being incredibly dangerous in terms of bruising and physical appearance. So why do it?
Another worrying example can be found in the hashtag ‘#RoastMe’ where individuals post a ‘selfie’ of themselves on social media, asking complete strangers to insult them in whatever way they see fit. Otherwise known as ‘voluntary bullying’ the results of this trend are unsurprisingly damaging. It seems this recent social craze has sparked unprecedented levels of online bullying, and who can honestly say they’re surprised? This again leaves us shocked and appalled as to why on earth people would put themselves through such self-inflicted distress. Could it be that people are so curious as to what others think of them that they are willing to take to social media and find out in the worst way possible? Apparently so.
With ridiculous crazes such as this being such a ‘hit’ on social media it’s often incredibly easy to point fingers at the sites themselves in order to shift blame. However, who exactly is responsible for such outrageous trends? Do social media sites encourage this kind of behaviour? Absolutely not. Only last week Twitter announced an update to its rules that clarify what is considered as ‘abusive behaviour and hateful conduct’. The updated rules explicitly state that users ‘cannot promote violence or directly attack and threaten people on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease’. With rules such as these in place it’s clear that the real issues lie with those individuals who produce, publish and even promote such negative content online, as opposed to the platforms themselves.
Whilst social media sites display the content, it is important to be reminded that it is ‘us and not them’ who should be blamed for the production of such posts and trends. In a world of ‘keyboard warriors’ it is evident that society is more than happy to point the finger and blame the multi-million dollar conglomerates, when in reality we as a generation should take responsibility for the negative impacts of social media that we produce as individuals.