Staff Editorial: Too much of a good thing

Mason Schweizer, Opinion Editor

This past Easter, folks in Cleveland were traumatized and caged in homes, fearing a man on the run who had killed 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr., who was walking home from celebrating the holiday with his family. The killer recorded the murder on his phone and immediately uploaded it for the world to see on Facebook.

Obviously, it is disheartening to see yet another case of death via social media in such a short time span, after a 13-year-old in Georgia accidentally shot himself last week while playing with a gun on Instagram Live. While the two events are on opposite ends of the spectrum—one a senseless murder, the other a terrible tragedy—they both are examples that show social media isn’t all fun and games.

It’s undeniable that social media has drastically changed the way we interact with one another, arguably more so than any previous technological breakthrough this side of the telephone. But, while telephones didn’t leave much room for improper use (aside from a classic prank call), social media is completely different.

Not only have platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram given us the opportunity to connect with old friends, meet new friends and enhance current friendships, it also gives those who crave attention exactly what they want.

Sometimes, it isn’t enough to show off your new shoes or give your undoubtedly correct opinion on a hot topic. Sometimes, you think what will really make your teenage peers think you’re dope is to flash a strap.

And sometimes, that special someone could not be giving you the attention she once did, so you realize that she’ll start paying attention if you smoke an old man and upload it to Facebook.

The continual rise of social media horrors like these doesn’t mean that the human race is becoming crazier or more violent. A few hundred years ago, armies would sack a town, kill all the men and children, rape the women and then kill them after a few days. So, honestly, society is making decent progress overall. But the dependence on attention and satisfaction via social media is an issue that is worth vigilance as our technological flowers continue to bloom.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or emotionally distressed, please call 911, the National Suicide Prevention Helpline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 1-877-726-4727, or the WSC Counseling Center at 402-375-7321.

Mason Schweizer for The Wayne Stater