By Nate Bernstein
Envision this: You are at a college party in 2005. You spin around the room, dancing to the music, stopping at the pong table to meet some people and play a few rounds. Now picture the last college party you saw. You thought of a video on your phone, didn’t you? Social media has dramatically increased in popularity in recent years, and studies have shown a rapid decrease in in-person social activities, and an increase in depression, especially among teenagers. The fear of missing out is only amplified when you see videos of public figures such as Chapman student and TikTok star Harry Raftus having a great time, and living their lives as they choose.
Jealousy is a powerful emotion, and can lead to some very rash decisions, especially on social media. While it is understandable that people are concerned about safety during a pandemic, ultimately it is a personal choice on how you want to spend your time. I know some people who are immune, and thus have no problem with being exposed to something that would be a risk to people without immunity, as they cannot carry it themselves. This last weekend, we saw a lot of videos circulate around social media, as well as a lot of hateful comments, directed towards people not following social distancing guidelines. While the actions of the partygoers are still technically against the student guidelines, so are the rules about alcohol in student housing, and neither are generally followed. Just like if an RA was to catch a group of students drinking in their room, the people who broke the guidelines and were reported to administration are being punished according to school policy.
Insulting and harassing people on social media however, will never be the answer. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind, and we are seeing that in the division created across campus these past weeks. This week we saw multiple members of Chapman’s Republican Club being personally attacked on their intelligence, physical appearance, and more. The creation of meme and spam accounts purely to poke fun at or harass any members of our Chapman community is cyberbullying, plain and simple. People need to remember that – no matter our political affiliation – we are still all students and members of the same community. Students posting targeting comments and posts will never see the target’s reaction when they receive the message. The worst part is that these pages are cowardly staying anonymous, allowing them to dish out hate without any consequences.
Living in a pandemic presents challenges for everyone, isolating them socially, creating a drastic increase in mental health issues. While everyone has a different way of coping with these challenges, hiding anonymously behind a phone and attacking people on the internet will never be productive. Anonymity has allowed for people to cower behind their screens and create division across campus, eliminating many opportunities for productive discussions between students. In order to create a better road ahead, social media has to go back to what it was meant to be, sharing the good memories and experiences you have had with your friends – without fear of being attacked by nameless peers. Social issues should be discussed socially, face to face, distanced if you choose, but never hiding behind a screen.
Nate Bernstein is a Freshman at Chapman University studying Computer Engineering.