Social Media: Good Vs. Evil
By Brandon Llamas
The spread of social media among Generation Z is undeniable, with mainstream platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Youtube allowing people to have complete communicative freedom. Human nature is reflected here in the same way that, if you gathered an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters, one of them might eventually type The Holy Bible, and another might write The Communist Manifesto.
Recently, an extreme example of this was exposed with the well-known Youtube vlogger Logan Paul. Clocking in at 16 million subscribers, mainly made up of young boys and girls, Paul’s platform was taken to an extreme and grotesque level after releasing footage of him entering the Aokigahara forest in Japan, commonly referred to as the “Suicide Forest” due to the extremely high number of attempted suicides that occur within it yearly.
In his video, Paul came across a young man’s dead body hanging from a tree, approached it with his group of friends, and proceeded to make crude jokes regarding the body, all before calling any authorities. He edited in a few short anecdotes about how, ironically, mental health was not a joke, but leaving the image of the deceased man in the thumbnail of his video suggests that his motives aligned more with generating ad revenue rather than suicide awareness.
Many students felt very strongly about his actions and their repercussions, including Novato High sophomore Aubri Bossaller, who felt that his target audience could be deeply impacted by his content.
“I think the incident with Logan Paul is atrocious,” said Bossaller. “ It makes me genuinely upset that he thought posting footage of a dead body would be acceptable to post, especially seeing as his demographic is mainly children under 13.”
The line between YouTube and LiveLeak should be clear. Yet, it is impossible to not push these boundaries when society has such a strong tendency to reward controversial actions with publicity and engagement.
Even Donald Trump, the President of the United States, exploits this. Political bias aside, President Trump frequently makes provocative tweets, knowing that, from his extensive history in the public eye, staying relevant is the key to staying in power. How hard is it to stay relevant when every time you mention Kim Jong Un on Twitter, it makes national news?
And why do we, collectively, allow this?
Junior Eric Avina spoke for many after being asked his opinion on President Trump’s larger-than-life presence on social media.
“I think he is doing what he feels is important and what he should be doing as the President of the United States,” Avina said, “but, really, he’s just full of it and spends too much time on Twitter instead of being the President. I feel like he should be banned.”
However, these two examples do not represent every social media user, just one side of a double-edged sword. Berkeley hip-hop artist, Lil B, is widely known for frequently promoting a positive humanitarian message through his Twitter profile, and has amassed a loyal audience of almost two million people in doing so.
On his 2010 single, “The Age of Information”, Lil B spoke out strongly against the toxic impact of social media and the conflict that exists between human evolution and technological evolution. His points are still significant today, despite the fact that the song was released almost a decade ago.
“This age of information has hurt the race, and you know why? Because all we do is judge,” said Lil B, at the end of this song. “All the movies, all the Internet, all we do is classify people. Now, I feel the Internet has ruined the human race.”
Despite this, there is no doubt that there are many upsides to the outlets we have at our fingertips, as Novato High junior Emily Hamilton expressed.
“I think it’s cool how many people it (social media) connects, and how it makes it so easy to get inspired with so many different ideas and types of art out there,” said Hamilton. “It’s a pretty neat thing when people use it as a platform for self expression.”
Social websites, as a whole, are incredibly useful as both arts-based and networking platforms, though it is important to remember that social media is a reflection of ourselves, and not the other way around.