Social media’s internal struggle

Jackson Myhre

I remember my freshman year of high school in 2011 when my parents finally decided to let me make my own Facebook profile. This was the latest trend among my peers so I felt that I needed it.

Once I made my profile, set my profile picture and made my first embarrassing Facebook post, I was off to the races. I added my four close friends and from there, my online social circle expanded.

At the time Facebook was the biggest deal since AIM. It began an internet revolution, inspiring others to bring their ideas for social media to life. Now there are hundreds of different online apps and websites dedicated to reaching out to strangers or sharing your thoughts and favorite moments for the world to see. From the 140-character limit of Twitter to the picture posting app Instagram, social media has come a long way.

I recall sitting on my couch, waiting for the bus to take me to the very place I wish to never return. High school. As I waited, my friend at the time texted me saying that I told someone that Eminem, a famous rapper, was coming to my house because of Make-A-Wish Foundation for my brother.

This was so elaborately detailed that I was shocked in disbelief. Word quickly spread to my other friends, their friends and total strangers. I was bombarded with messages on Facebook of people calling me out, saying I was lying although I never said it in the first place.

Soon enough things returned to normal, my friends stayed my friends for the next couple of years and people moved on. Social media provides us with the platform to expand our social circles and reach out to those who have not been able to hear from us before.

It allows celebrities and sports players to reach fans like never before. However, all the good can surely not be the only force lurking behind social media; this other force is the same force that I experienced all those years ago.

The negative side of social media was used against a young boy just a few weeks ago.  According to CBS News, Tysen Benz, 11, died at the University of Michigan Hospital in Ann Arbor after being on life support for three weeks from a suicide attempt on March 14.

This tragedy echoed through the Marquette community and gained widespread attention. A 13-year-old girl who is not identified told Benz that she was going to take her own life. Benz told her that he would kill himself and she did not act accordingly to save him.

Through the power of social media, she used her friends’ social media accounts to post fake proof of her own suicide. This is what led Benz to attempt suicide.

After the tragic loss of Tysen Benz Katrina Goss, Benz’s mother, asks parents to “Please monitor all of your children’s technological device usage. It is not an invasion of privacy. It is imperative to know what they are doing and to whom they are socializing with.”

As children grow up, they are slowly figuring out their roles within society and how they will fit in with the people around them. This is a crucial time for the health and wellbeing for all children around the age of Tysen Benz. For something so tragic to happen to both Benz and his family is a reflection on the power of social media.

This heinous act speaks volumes regarding social media and what we do with it. While grown adults can handle their social media accounts responsibly, for the most part, this does not mean that our children should have them. The power of social media will always have an impact on present day culture, but it will always remain a privilege.

As we move forward with technological, medical and cultural advances, social media will always remain a driving force in the world of the Internet. While this feature allows us to spread our ideas and share our adventures, it is not something that should be taken for granted.

To avoid regretful posts on Facebook and to avoid getting sucked into a lie that consumes your social media accounts, such as mine was, there must be limitations. These limitations can prevent negative results and even save lives.