When Facebook first became the go- to  social media platform for millions of people, it was impossible for many to avoid getting sucked into the social media vortex.

  For the first time people from all over the world could immediately connect. Many took advantage of the technology by reconnecting with old high school friends, long lost loves, and keeping up with their family’s day to day lives. In the beginning, we were only able to access Facebook by logging into our family computers that were likely located in a shared living space at home, or at a public library. 

But as smart phone technology advanced, access to social media was in the palm of our hand and went where we went. It wasn’t long before other platforms began popping up like Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Instagram wanted to give users the opportunity to showcase their lives via images with short captions. Then Snapchat came out with the unique disappearing chat option- giving users more privacy. As social media platforms became more popular, countless more options were added to better suit a person’s interest. But did we jump into the vanity pool headfirst without making sure the water wasn’t shallow?

            Just recently the Surgeon General partly blamed social media platforms for the increasing number of teens experiencing loneliness and depression. And, while many people and organizations have benefited from social media, there might be a dark side to the still new –  online world. 

            Without the Surgeon Generals warning, it might already be obvious that something just isn’t right. In 2007 when a young girl posted a smiling selfie of herself at Auschwitz death camp, many people were outraged. It was obvious to everyone how disrespectful it was to make light of a horrifying event in history by showcasing your face directly in front of the Auschwitz entry gates. At that time, there was still a general understanding of acceptable social behaviors on and offline. That is not the case in 2022. 

            After the COVID-19 shut down in 2020, there was a major uptick in social media use – none of us really had a choice. TIK TOK became more popular than ever by allowing others to feel connected even though we couldn’t see each other in person. But, with the new wave of users came a new wave of weird online behaviors. The boundaries seem to have completely disappeared. 

Recently, popular Youtuber Jordan Cheyenne received backlash for forcing her 9- year old son to “Cry for Real” for their dying dog so she could get a good thumbnail for her vlog. The undying insistent thirst for attention is driving many vloggers and influencer to great lengths in order to get what they want from their followers. The same behavior seems to be increasing amongst any social media user. TIK TOK has become a hotbed for negative influence amongst young adults and teens. TIK TOK trends have led to extremely dangerous behavior, sometimes causing death or catastrophic injury. In New Jersey May 2020, one boy became victim to the ‘Skull Breaker’ challenge . The challenge is two people tripping an unknowing person from behind, so they land on the back of their head. Luckily the boy survived but not without a long recovery. And just recently students were joining in on the ‘devious licks’ challenge by stealing from their school and posting it online. TIK TOK released a statement condemning the bad behavior but odd trends like this continue. 

It may seem easy to point your finger at the younger generation, but many adults aren’t setting a very good example themselves. While adult users may not be stealing for attention, many of them are posting videos without considering their audience. Adult influencers or wannabe influencers only confirm to younger users that it is okay to constantly beg for attention from others. 

Do the positives of having a free platform outweigh the negatives that come along? When it comes to mainstream media, we may sometimes ask ourselves the same question. So just like when you are watching television and something you hate comes on, you might just have to change the channel. 

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