Student and Twitter user Christian DiPonziano shared on the “tweets from everywhere but Twitter” (#tfebt) tag a fascinating article from Teen Ink about how technology might be negatively affecting our society.
— Christian DiPonziano (@diCoDedXlll) October 5, 2014
The article, written by Teen Ink contributor Nables, raises a fascinating point. How do we define popularity in the age of Web 2.0?
“It has become incredibly easy with the rise of the internet to become popular just by making the biggest impression,” Nables writes.
Popularity for me, when I was in grade school, was defined by how many friends a person had. Reputation, by how teachers and other students felt about you. It didn’t extend into environments beyond that.
Now, however, it’s common for someone to have hundreds upon hundreds of Facebook friends, and your reputation can be made or broken by a few misinterpreted status updates. How exactly do we redefine reputation and popularity to accommodate those factors? We make the biggest impression.
Now, popularity is defined by who is the most memorable, and reputation is defined by why they’re that memorable. Often, negative impressions will gain a person more popularity than positive ones. Our definition of celebrity has been rewritten to include anyone who can make the most outlandish statements or gather the most hate. Take, for example, Justin Bieber. He was discovered on YouTube, skyrocketed to fame because of his talent, and was talked about even after he burned out because of his obnoxious and disrespectful behavior. In today’s world, that’s just how former child stars tend to keep the attention on them.
Technology, overall, has caused us to put negative connotations on “popularity.” Instead of going by who is actually the most likable, we go by who can make the biggest splash in the internet gossip pool. It’s both strange and a little disconcerting how we’ve come to this point, but who am I to judge?
Two of the biggest social media sensations on campus are the snapchat account YikYakRowan and the Facebook page “Rowan University Secrets/Confessions.” Both of these are forms of anonymous social media, so people seem to have no problem submitting revealing pictures of themselves, attaching the names of themselves or others to posts, or posting comments with degrading or argumentative topics. The question I’m dying to know the answer to is, “How screwed are we when it comes to finding jobs?” It’s becoming increasingly common for companies to look at potential employees’ social media history with background-check intensity, meaning that the snapchat screenshot of your newly-pierced nipples that your friend drunkenly posted on Facebook and tagged you in might actually affect your opportunities in the future.
YikYakRowan is a snapchat account (based on and named after the popular Yik Yak app, which missed the cut on this list because it’s so heavily moderated and mostly harmless posts about being a “thirsty b***h” anyway) that reposts pictures from other Rowan students to their story, for all of their followers to see. While this is great for some harmless entertainment or even helping people locate lost items (I’ve seen more than one lost credit card on there) some students are taking it too far. Among the pictures of pets, goofy faces, and disturbingly accurate drawings done with a phone stylus are nude pictures (how consensual these pictures are sometimes is up for debate) pictures of students holding alcoholic beverages, and images taken of people without their knowledge.
Similarly, Rowan University Secrets/Confessions is a Facebook page that allows students to anonymously submit “confessions” that are then posted on the page. Past posts range from crushes and compliments to multiple confessions about vindictively putting bodily fluids in roommates’ personal items. Again, while the posts are anonymous, people tend to get in arguments in the comments section or post degrading things about friends regarding the post. Though this is usually done in good fun, it can bounce back later when it ends up on your profile.
My point is this: while everything is usually meant as all in good fun, be careful what you put out there. Even posts on the most anonymous of platforms can come back to bite you.