Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Google+. Regardless of what your thoughts may be, there is no shortage of where to post them in the social networking world. Social networking connects us, unites us, and offers us an Internet soapbox in cyberspace, which anyone has total access to.
Twitter, to me, is one of the best websites that social networking has to offer. Not because they give you entry to the insight of celebrities and athletes-let’s face it, Kim Kardashian doesn’t have the most intelligent thoughts-but because of the challenge it presents. Limited to only 140 characters, users have to think of clever, shortened ways to get a point across.
While I will confess to sometimes using Twitter to air out 140 characters of frustration and aggravation, some college students have taken their tweets a little too far.
According to an article published by USA Today, 18 percent of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 24, many of whom are college students. Tweets coming from college students, including athletes, have recently made headlines and caused various universities to take disciplinary action.
Tweets regarding disapproval of homosexuality from North Carolina State University’s power forward C.J. Leslie and University of Texas at El Paso’s center John Bohannon made news and caused controversy on their campuses. Harassing tweets sent from a student at Florida State University to a player on the University of Oklahoma’s football team last Wednesday included harmful wishes to the player’s family and references to the Oklahoma City bombing, as well as mentions of a deceased football player. The tweets enraged Sooner fans, and resulted in FSU issuing a letter of apology. A tweet from one of the accounts of The University of Iowa referred to Republican House of Representatives member Michele Bachmann as a “cougar,” which resulted in the university issuing an apology to the presidential hopeful.
While there are ways to set your profile to private, it has become an almost universal truth that there is no such thing as privacy on the web. Although websites like Facebook and Twitter were created to give us an outlet to represent ourselves, we have to understand as a culture that common courtesy still applies. I have always believed that if you wouldn’t say it out loud, it doesn’t belong on the web. Posting something on an online site that could alter others’ opinions of you or offend a certain person or group is essentially the same as vocally saying it. Many seem to find that concept hard to grasp because thoughts have the tendency to come out more effortlessly while hiding behind a computer screen.
Upsetting complete strangers and having the disciplinary committee at your university become familiar with you on a first-name basis just isn’t worth it for 140 characters of ignorance. There are so many beneficial aspects of websites such as Twitter, but college students need to realize that “The Golden Rule” is still applicable on the World Wide Web.