Social Media Offers Hope and Harm

There is so much harm the Internet and its new communication methods can do. For example, social media allows schoolyard bullies to anonymously follow teenagers into what could/should be a safe haven, their home. As long as you’re connected you’re also connected to your bullies. Sadly, teenagers then often see no other way out than ending their lives (CN: suicide)

However, the Internet also allows teens that are struggling and/or are isolated at school and at home to find a community they can connect to. Communities they might not otherwise have access to, based on location or ability. 

In her powerful memoir Redefining Realness, Janet Mock mentions this aspect of social media as a very positive thing for trans youth: 

“When support and education for trans youth are absent, feelings of isolation and hopelessness can worsen. Coupled with families who might be intolerant and ill equipped to support a child, young trans people must deal with identity and body issues alone and in secret. The rise of social media and online resources has lessened the deafening isolation for trans people. If they have online access, trans people can find support and resources on YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, and various other plattforms where trans folks of all ages are broadcasting their lives, journeys, and even social and medical transitions. Still, the fact remains that local trans-inclusive support and positive media reflections of trans people are rare outside of major cities like Los Angeles, New York, Portland, and Seattle.” p. 118

What this quote also shows is that we can’t rely on the Internet to satisfy our need for information and community.  The Internet does not make your physical location, your physical sphere meaningless. Otherwise young people wouldn’t still move to major cities/areas like Berlin or Silicon Valley in large numbers.

The Internet does add options, and that can be a very, very good thing.

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