Editor’s Introduction

Originally when we started reading the book “Reclaiming Conversations
by Sherry Turkle, I didn’t know what to expect. I thought it was going to be extremely boring and I wouldn’t be able to relate to it or be interested in it. But that quickly changed in the Friendship chapter. During the blog assignments we were were assigned while reading the book. I found something that sparked some interest. When I saw the book talking about oversharing information on the internet, it made me go on Twitter and reference a tweet I had seen one day while scrolling through my timeline. The tweet said: “I have never wanted to die more than I have lately.” no one replied, no one favorited..no one did anything. This got me thinking about all of the disturbing things that people must post on social media, whether it’s on Twitter or Facebook.

I also noticed myself oversharing things that were going on in my personal life. I have this app called Timehop, its purpose is to link all of your social media “handles” together and show you what you posted on Facebook, what selfie you “Instagrammed”, what meme you had retweeted on Twitter. I looked back on mine and realized I had been involved in “bullying”. I had commented on this girls status “calling out” this other girl for stealing her boyfriend. The bully had said some horrible things like name calling. I went along because the bully was my friend so I commented about the other girls appearance. In reality, the girl was absolutely beautiful, smart and always kind to me and others. But I didn’t think about how it would hurt her until I saw her crying in the hallway between classes the next day at school. After that, I profusely apologized and mentally vowed to picture her crying that day anytime I thought about being mean to someone over the internet.

**About half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly**

Empathy is nowhere to be found

Empathy, defined: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another an example of empathy and how it’s changed, is calling someone ugly or fat. If you do it in person… you see the other persons reaction and feel immediate guilt. If you call someone fat or ugly online, you can’t see that body language or how it affects them so you feel okay about yourself. Found on Facebook: Empathy does a good job explaining how empathy has changed over the years between online and in person.

People find things that are traumatic, dangerous and potentially dangerous…interesting. Videos of a car crashes, police chases, someone having a stroke become viral very quickly. Not because we are horrible people, but because there  is this part of us that can’t imagine it happening to us. which brings me to this question: Is the Internet killing empathy? This article mentions a study done between adults & kids and what their capacity for empathy is. These are two articles that I found to show how empathy is changing online. One article has a study about teenagers and how they are still trying to understand empathy. The other focuses on empathy itself.

What’s the desire to live-stream violence?

After a white male was kidnapped and abused by four African American young adults. One of the suspects involved live streamed the kidnapping and abuse of the man in real time. The question that comes to mind is why would someone commit a crime and live stream it? This article The Desire to Live-Stream Violence mentions the desire for young adults to want attention, the victims were between the ages of 18-24 fit that scenario perfectly. This is becoming a serious issue that civilization is normalizing and even encouraging which is quite concerning as it becomes popular in my generation, it worries me whats possible in the generations to come.

If they can do it why can’t I? 

People depend on others for comfort in their choices. This article talks about how friends could be influenced by how someones else is feeling. For example, say your friend posts something super happy about how they love life and they want to seek adventure. Seeing that they have this, you reflect on the adventure you may be seeking as well and decide to be spontaneous. In this case, its not so much happy as it is being depressed; this article Suicide on Social Media a Cry for Help shows that. More and more people are seeing these live stream Facebook/Periscope and believe that if they feel upset/depressed or can relate to the person and look to them as an example as to what they should do.

Copycat suicides, no empathy, only encouragement.

Live streaming suicides have gotten more popular over the years. The article mentions Abraham Biggs, his suicide attempt and the viewers thought process that happened while they saw him live streaming this. Its become a big assumption that people are simply doing things for attention. Although, people seem to love attention and want to be in a spotlight, it can be a serious matter to someone. Although, aspiring actor Jay Bowdy, wanted the spotlight and did want to commit suicide. He managed to both over facebook live. Why are people livI am e-streaming their suicides? A big misconception in live streaming videos are that people believe that it is a prank or that people are doing it for attention. Although live streaming videos do have some attention seeking aspects, a lot of people that talk about suicides on live stream are looking for “encouragement”.

This article mentions Facebook’s new tool to try and prevent suicides on Facebook Live. Viewers have the option to report it.” Experts say that one of the best ways to prevent suicide is for those in distress to hear from people who care about them,” says a Facebook blog post. Once a video is flagged as “likely to include thoughts of suicide” an algorithm will be sent to a human working at Facebook and if deemed a true threat they will reach out to the person with resources. Facebook Addresses Growing Issue of Livestreamed Suicides. I am hoping this will bring people to stop violence or someone committing self harm online. Even if you believe that this person is simply seeking attention. There has been a lot of links of mental health problems with the kids that have committed suicide on live stream videoing. Sexual and mental abuse, life in foster homes, bi polar disorder, bullying are all mental health issues that have been found from some of these victims.

This is very alarming to realize, people who are watching that might feel the same at the moment might believe that if this person can do it and its going to bring them relief then maybe it will do the same for me. The disturbing trend of live-streamed suicides Facebook mentions that they do realize people use Facebook Live to share experiences that are occurring with friends and family and it does not violate their guidelines to do so, but if they do see something that does violate their community standards they will intervene and stop the live streaming of the video.

**On average, there are 321,500 victims (age 12 or older) of rape and sexual assault each year in the United States.** 

Unfortunately, not as many people report it out of fear, usually victims are assaulted by someone they know or they are too young when it happened. So instead people hold it inside, therefore it causes a mental health problem like depression.

Tips & Advice:

1.) Clean up your social media, if you wouldn’t want your boss, parents or professors to see it…you should probably take it off social media (or at least go through your privacy settings).

2.) Don’t overshare, not everything you do should be announced on social media. This can potentially make you a target to someone. Sharing location, schedules, personal information etc. could all potentially be ways for someone to track you down.

3.) If you’ve seen someone tweet something like I did, say something! Even if you dont know the person personally, or you think that someones already talked to them. Taking two seconds to ask someone if they would like to talk could possibly prevent them from going down a dark path.

4.) Report! Report! REPORT! If someone posts about killing themselves, hurting themselves and/or others, “leaving and never coming back” ETC. No matter how minor it may seem, if someone seems like they may harm themselves or simply seeking attention. A lot of the attention part may be because of a case of sexual abuse in the past.

5.) Don’t cave into cyber bullying. It may seem like nothing and unfortunately seem like a natural thing to do in this day in age. but the psychological effects can ruin someones life. If you see someone getting bullied online, report the person or reach out to an adult or even the bully. Reaching out to the victim getting bullied may want to talk about it and an open ear can be very refreshing.