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Are our private lives really private?

May 23, 2017

“Private eyes, watching you.”  Although when the song was popular 30 years ago, eerily, today its lyrics ring true.  If you have ever felt like someone is watching you, the chances are that someone is. Public social media accounts open up a world of opportunity for people to do whatever they please on someone else’s page. Whether it is your Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat, people can always view your posts. From rude comments to screenshots, no one is safe. Keeping social media on “public,” is not worth it.

Even though social media offers an option to keep a profile private, fewer people are using it.  The more followers you have, the better, and people leave their accounts available to anyone and everyone. This makes it easy for anyone to follow your location and look further into your personal life. There are some things you should keep private, and social media is one of those things. The dangers greatly outweigh the “bonus” of having a few extra followers.  Think of it like this:  would you leave your car unlocked or walk away from home with your front door wide open?

“I think kids should be educated about the dangers of social media. They should have the choice about whether to have it private or not but should face the consequences nonetheless,” Sydney McCready, freshman, said.

Whatever you like and whomever you are following will eventually be known by others. Potential employers routinely look into your social media, and over half of hiring managers reconsider a candidate because of what they find online. Know that once you post something, it is there forever even if you have your account set to private.  Nothing you delete is really gone for good. Before you post a racy picture of yourself, or retweet something that borders on offensive, think about who is going to see it and whether you really want that stuck to your reputation.

Public social media accounts are becoming a trend, and fewer people are keeping their information locked up. Some sources of media are also more commonly protected than others. For example, over half of teens on Facebook keep their profiles protected, but sixty-four percent of teens on Twitter make their profiles public.

The pressure of meeting everyone’s standards weighs heavily when first creating an account. Social media also leads to things like photo-shopping bodies to pull in more likes and adoring comments. People can even get away with anonymously ridiculing others which opens a new door for bullying.

The bottom line is there should not be a need to fix a photo in order to impress others. There is no reason to post about how much you hate your mom, or how horribly your day went. Keeping accounts protected is the first step to keeping yourself safe from creeps and people who have nothing better to do then harass you.

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Face to face or screen to screen?

Online dating sights have been popping up in commercials and on billboards. With modern technology, people are finding new ways to meet their significant other. It could be a dating site, or through a few slick comments on Instagram. Now that finding a match is more efficient with the help of the Internet, it leaves people wondering if those pairs really do find love.

While a majority of teens do not resort to using a dating site to find a partner, they do have social media. According to Pew Research Center, roughly twenty-seven percent of young adults are online dating. Kids are finding their matches in all sorts of ways now, not just face-to-face. Olivia Dorsey, freshman at Etowah, found her boyfriend of four months on Houseparty. She was looking for friends, not expecting to meet that someone special, so their relationship began as a casual friendship.

“Houseparty is a great place to meet new people, and it makes for a good way to build things like friendships and relationships,” Dorsey said.

In some situations it seems like true love. For sophomore Kellie Little, that was not the case. She met her guy through a mutual friend, though they had not met in person before. While she was initially excited to go on a date with him, it did not go as planned. He hardly spoke to her throughout their time together. It was uncomfortable and awkward the entire date.

“He was not as funny of a person as he was online. He was just a totally different person than I expected,” Little said.

Some online dates lead to something better than imagined, but others simply do not. Others get into a relationship before they even meet their partner face-to-face, but the simple truth is that face-to-face dating is becoming the exception, not the norm. In a world where we post our moments everywhere and all the time, who knows what dating will look like twenty years from now?


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CFFs: Cyber friends forever

Over the past decade, friendships have changed greatly. Making friends over the internet has become the norm, not the exception despite this generation growing up learning the dangers of social media.  Everyone seems to be on some sort of device, and it is difficult for parents to monitor their children, now more than ever. Their pages are left unprotected for the world to see because now it seems the more followers, the better, even if you do not know them.

Growing up in an era of technology, my mom did not let me have any social media until I turned twelve. She warned me constantly about the dangers of talking to strangers. And for awhile, I followed that rule, and I only spoke to people I knew. But when I had just turned fourteen, I met a girl on Twitter, and what I did not know is that she would be one of my best friends a year later.

I tell my friend Emma everything, and even with our time difference, we manage to make room in our schedules to vent about the horrors of life. Internet friends offer a great, unbiased point-of-view on tricky situations. I have gotten some of my best advice from Emma, and we work through tough times together. Having someone to lean on is important, and whether you have met them in person or not, you can share a close connection.

In a 2015, Pew Research Center conducted a survey that showed over half of teens have met a new friend online. Twenty-nine percent of teens have made more than five friends over the internet. Whether parents like it or not, at a young age kids are making friends over the internet. It could be through Facebook (do kids even use that?), Instagram, Twitter, or online video games. Despite common belief, many teens are aware of the dangers of the internet and know how to handle themselves. Not all people are catfish, and if they were, teens are actually good at spotting the signs. It is highly likely that social media will actually lead to a nice friend and not a creep.

I am not saying go out and share all of your personal information on the internet to the first person you meet. That is very far from what I believe in, and I am aware not all people online have good intentions. I am saying that as a person with personal experience in online friendships, they are not all evil. It is not weird. Many of the people on the internet today have grown up with technology and can read people online very well. The way the internet is advancing, we have to open up and experience new ways to do things, like meet friends. The world is changing, and we have to change with it.

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