By Katrina Liu
On Feb. 15, British TV presenter Caroline Flack committed suicide at the age of 40. The event caused a frenzy online, calling into question the role of social media on one’s mental and emotional wellbeing.
This isn’t the first time the internet has had this conversation, and unfortunately, it will not be the last. But a tragic, publicized death like Flack’s can serve as a reminder to all of us to reflect on how we treat others, and to remind us that all of our interactions and actions — big or small — have an impact on somebody.
Social media is, in most cases, a major part of our everyday lives. In general, we can post whatever we want. While that aspect of it is amazing and can connect us with our passions or with people who inspire us, it can also be dangerous.
We have a responsibility to look out for each other, especially when someone posts something that seems “off,” or when people try to drag each other down.
Commenting on an Instagram post or replying to a tweet feels like an automatic, impulsive action. When we say something even slightly negative to someone else on the internet, it doesn’t seem like much.
Since it’s not face-to-face, it doesn’t have as much meaning… right?
Perhaps it doesn’t. We all have a bit of thick skin, so minor, negative comments may not faze us at the moment. But on a particularly bad day, they will. And if there’s a large volume of such negativity, it’ll fuse into our everyday attitudes.
While it can be avoidable (after all, we can delete social media accounts whenever we want to), it’s not always so easy in the digital world we live in.
Although we cannot patrol every single account on social media, we can control what we share online and hold our friends accountable for what they put out there. It takes some courage to tell your friends that what they’re posting is negative and it’s a very small step. But it’s an important one.
We need to be more mindful of how we use social media.
It’s our duty to set an example for the next generation of social media users and how they should treat others on the internet. No one should be able to say something negative and then escape, only to hide behind a screen.
Hold your friends and yourself accountable. We must be kinder to one another.