How is social media taking center stage in so many of our National tragedies in recent years. From the shocking posts of Nikolas Cruz to the haunting Facebook texts between Michelle Carter and Conrad Roy III in his final hours. These cannot simply be deemed isolated incidence but rather a societal pandemic of epic proportions.
We must teach our children how social media and chronic texting is shaping their conscientiousness and communication to develop into and assure they are not sheep of social media interaction…how often have you heard ‘they are just trying to get attention’ or ‘nobody listens to them anyway! There is just TOO MUCH information being exchanged, they are forced to process real from fake on a continual basis just to attempt to draw about the small amounts of reality that actually exist; if they even choose to.
As a father of two I have been guilty of sitting idly by as my children drone endlessly on their phones. Between the texting, video chats, social media feeds and all other elements of the social media web it is virtually impossible to divert their vision from what they view as a critical portal to their social status. I used the word social media web intentionally, for what they are getting lured into and trapped within is truly a devastating version of reality and new virtual dictator of non-emotional communication.
To support this and as stated by Liraz Margalit PH.D. in her article The Psychology Behind Social Media Interactions, the loss of face-to-face communications has led to great tragedy and ultimately the facilitation of virtual communication.
In contrast, online interactions are devoid of emotions. One tragic example involves a mother, Sharon Seline, who often exchanged text messages with her daughter, who was away at college. One afternoon, they ‘chatted’ back and forth, with mom asking how things were going and daughter answering with positive statements followed by emoticons of smiles and hearts. Later that night, the daughter attempted suicide. The signs of depression were there, but could only have been interpreted through face-to-face communications and the sharing of her emotional state.
Social media facilitates a virtual form of interaction. The term ‘virtual’ is used to describe things that are not real, but which take on the important qualities of the real.
As a further basis to this concern I offer the following report from CBS News – Social media may play a role in the rise in teen suicides which recaps a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report you find:
“CHICAGO — An increase in suicide rates among U.S. teens occurred at the same time social media use surged and a new analysis suggests there may be a link.
Suicide rates for teens rose between 2010 and 2015 after they had declined for nearly two decades, according to data from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Why the rates went up isn’t known.
The study doesn’t answer the question, but it suggests that one factor could be rising social media use. Recent teen suicides have been blamed on cyber-bullying, and social media posts depicting “perfect” lives may be taking a toll on teens’ mental health, researchers say.”
“We need to stop thinking of smartphones as harmless,” said study author Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University who studies generational trends. “There’s a tendency to say, ‘Oh, teens are just communicating with their friends.’ Monitoring kids’ use of smartphones and social media is important, and so is setting reasonable limits, she said.”
Outside of the societal and psychological implications you also have biblical implications which predicts the rise in such occurences towards the end of days. Most major religions condemn, in some form, the use of slander, gossip or harmful speech. In Hebrew the words are lashon hara (meaning evil tongue) , in the Bible you have many verses but one best illustrates the seriousness of the offense.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
Bible – Romans 1:28-32 ESV
Making too much out of nothing?…I leave you this final example. Take the case of Michelle Carter who was charged with Manslaughter in a case that revolved around texts that led to the suicide death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy III. In the complete series of texts between 6-01-2017 to 7-12-2017 the amount of texts (over 4000) and message content is chilling. In his final minutes here are a few of what was exchanged:
7/12/14 6:11 PM Incoming From: +15088384879 Michelle Carter I know, you just have to do it like you said
7/12/14 6:19 PM Incoming From: +15088384879 Michelle Carter Are you gonna do it now
7/12/14 6:19 PM Outgoing To: +15088384879 Michelle Carter I haven’t left yet haha
7/12/14 6:20 PM Incoming From: +15088384879 Michelle Carter Why…
7/12/14 6:20 PM Outgoing To: +15088384879 Michelle Carter leavin now
7/12/14 6:20 PM Incoming From: +15088384879 Michelle Carter Okay. You can do this
7/12/14 6:25 PM Outgoing To: +15088384879 Michelle Carter okay I’m almost there
7/12/14 6:28 PM Incoming From: +15088384879 Michelle Carter Okay
7/12/14 9:19 PM Outgoing To: 7746788888 Conrad Roy Please answer me
At this point Conrad Roy III had passed from inhaling carbon monoxide fumes in his truck in a parking lot of closed K-Mart in Massachusetts.
This resulted in Bristol County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz giving this sentence:
To understand the importance of teaching our children the outright danger of cause and effect of harmful speech, inaccurate speech, conjecture and ‘make believe’ used in their day-to-day social media & texting habits is paramount to their understanding and release from The Social Media & Texting Web of The New Virtual Fiction. WE MUST ACT, before another life is needlessly lost.