(Before I begin: Yes, I know that I didn’t put ON A SIDE NOTE in the title, but that’s because this isn’t just a short status update about a hiatus or a family trip just gone by.)
Alternative title: what I learned from marking as many of my social media profiles as possible “private”
So what do privacy, a crapton of puppies, and tea have in common? And why am I posting this here today along with another poem?
The answer is this, quite simple: immature teenagers (mostly girls, although sometimes boys) thinking that they can one-up a person by mocking their appearance, personal tastes, etc. instead of addressing the problem at hand. Maybe you’ve seen some of these people at work in your social media feed or noticed some of the colloquial terms used to endorse, describe, or glamorize this behavior: “salty”, the frog and tea emojis put together at the end of an unnecessarily rude sentence (as if that constituted an argument), “roasting”…the list could go on and on. There are new words passing into the vernacular each day.
There is a problem among many teens nowadays, and I say this as a teen myself: being nasty to other people is being glamorized beyond belief. Have teenagers always been rude to each other over the pettiest of arguments? Yes. But with the advent of the first generation raised with the internet, the repercussions of this behavior can be much worse, and a spat can cross multiple continents and involve thousands if not millions of people within a few seconds. A reputation can be ruined faster than one can find a Spanish tongue-twister and struggle through it.
About two weeks ago, at the end of one of my poems, I made an announcement that I was setting both my Twitter and Instagram on private in order to prevent butthurt LGBT pride celebrators from hurling personal attacks on me for choosing to not celebrate my gender or my sexuality. When you’ve burned through three Tumblr accounts and have seen both the nicest and the most nasty people sides of the website, one can become quite scared for their personal privacy on the internet. On one hand, you’re just a few clicks away from countless galleries of puppies and other baby animals being adorable for hours on end of enjoyment. But on the other hand, you make one mistake- innocent intentions or not- and butthurt fandomites will descend on your sorry ass and leak your private information (an action known as “doxxing“), flood all your possible pipes of interacting online with death threats akin to a DDoS, and otherwise render your experience of the internet to be painful at best. One misstep, and you’re the next zamii070.
However, if you set your social media profiles to be the most private they can be and carefully filter through follower and friend requests to only be people that you trust, how are angry hormonal girls supposed to snatch pictures of your face, send doctored screenshots to your employer, and lead harassment campaigns to smear your name? There’s a reason I’ve ceased to post my face anywhere. Nobody can photoshop my face into a grotesque mess if the closest thing they can find to a face is the Zorphian four-chambered heart, dubbed a “wonton” by the little girls of my unit last year at Girl Scout Camp.
So what if it’s harder to get post notifications? It’s easy enough to pop over to IFTTT and set up a notification for an RSS feed. If there’s enough of a will, there’ll always be a way- which I hear is a bastardized English proverb.
Anonymity is a powerful thing, and I’ll gladly have far less likes on Instagram and no comments praising my appearance if it means I get to preserve it.