Not At Home

Have you ever logged on to Facebook, seen a post, and been like, "Why the heck are you posting this online?" You could be reacting this way due to a friend's lovesick rant, or an embarrassing viral video, or worst of all, an old relative sharing a post that's rated R. You're pretty sure they have friends or followers online they wouldn't want to show those things to, so what are they thinking? Why is the irresponsible use of social media so rampant?

To answer this question, we need to look at what social media means to us nowadays. It's not just a passing fad, as one might have expected when it first started getting popular, but it has become a big part of our lives. Almost everyone has some sort of social media account, whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. We use it for important things like work and school, but it can't be argued that most people, especially most teens, use the bulk of their time online (and a significant percentage of their mobile data and the University's free Wi-Fi) to have fun. We venture into the parts of the internet that holds our interests, like sports, photography, food, gaming, literature, movies and many others. In this day and age, you can truly access everything with just a smartphone, a tablet or a laptop and a stable Wi-Fi connection. Powerful, right?

On top of that, you can post anything you want, too, share like crazy, and comment like mad. It almost seems like we're more comfortable expressing ourselves online than in person. There's something about being just behind a screen and a keyboard that liberates us, so much that we feel inclined to share even the darkest and most personal parts of ourselves. This freedom that we feel when we're online is enough to make us forget that everyone is watching, and they may not like what they see.

You might think, "So what? I don't care what anyone says about me! They can unfollow me if they like!" But what happens when people you think you can trust laugh at you behind your back? And are you sure you want your old elementary classmates and distant cousins to know how heartbroken you are or about your family problems? The fact is, some things are too personal for social media because those sites are like a grassy plot of land–they're filled with snakes. And students and professionals alike should be cautious; employers, bosses, principals, and teachers monitor social media activity, use your profile as a judge of character, and hold anything they can against you. Not to mention the bullies and trolls that seem to have nothing better to do than to insult and make fun of people on comment sections and forums. Some even go so far as to make hate pages. It must be sad having so much free time and so little self-esteem. But anyway, being careless online has much graver consequences as well, such as identity theft, scams, and blackmail.

But yeah, most of the time when we get hurt by social media, and by life in general, it's because we have become too at home at a place that is unsafe. And what happens when you bare flesh in a lion's den? You get eaten alive.

Humans are silly creatures. We fall in love with being online because it feels like a place of our own making, where we can do what we want, say what we want, and there won't be any consequences. It's all well and good, beautiful, in fact, when we're smart about it. Adjust your privacy settings, don't just add to your friend's list whoever drops a request, and think twice before you say or post something. Think about what it might say about you as a person and consider how people might treat you afterward. We might say we don't care, but words, actions, and public judgment may damage our state of mind. On another hand, we so often use our freedom of speech as an excuse to say whatever we want, without considering how we might offend people in the process. Nobody wants to be known as a bad person (even when they are), so think before clicking "post" if you want to keep up the façade or maintain what could be the slightest bit of respect people have for you.

Most importantly, never let the world of the internet replace your real home. Never let comment sections replace real conversations. Don't let selfie smiles be your only smiles. And never think the screen is brighter than the sun. We may see these sites as our outlets because we find it difficult to open up when there's no screen or pseudonym to hide behind, but remember, there isn't an emoji that could replace your dimples, and no sticker (no matter how cute that is) could stand in the place of your best friend holding your hand. Sympathy and sincerity are so much more beautiful in person. So yes, relish social network for all its perks: how it connects us when we're far away and how we can make ourselves known to the world. But just like most things, there's so much more to life than social media. Don't miss it.

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