Unfriended – Online Life or Real Life?

I ran into this new movie called Unfriended when trying to watch a video on YouTube the other day. Guess what? It was amazing. Okay, I haven’t really wanted to watch a lot of horror movies lately. The new age Amityville stuff just doesn’t interest me. But this caught my attention. First, I monitor social media on a daily basis for my job. Second, (and the main focus of this post) it brings up the negative effects that social media can have on a person. Third, it is more in line of the current social media ‘hangout’ part of today’s culture.

Besides being a horror movie where people are presumably murdered in a gory fashion, this movie is based on the negative overall effects that social media had on the girl who kills herself at the beginning. A not-so-flattering video was posted online of this girl and it, “like, TOTALLY,” ruined her social life! (Read that as though you’re a character in the movie Clueless.) I know, it was a bad video of her that was posted and it was mean of the other kids, etc., but there’s a bigger point to be made here. Social media and online lives are not real life.

People go online and post things to social media about what they’re doing, where they are, the cool things or frustrating things that have happened to them. The problem is there are people out there who see these things and it makes them feel bad because their lives aren’t as glamorous as those that are portrayed online (and chances are, their lives aren’t any more glamorous than yours and mine…not at all). The girl in this movie saw something of herself that made her feel bad, scared, socially scarred and committed suicide. There are stories in the news where kids are bullied online and it sometimes leads to the same results. But even being bullied online isn’t exactly real life. It can hurt just as bad, maybe worse. But should it?

Let me explain. I know the bullying versus what happened in the movie are different situations, but they are linked by the online element. While online, people can be mean and rude and whomever they want to be. In real life, face to face, they might never in their wildest imagination ever say something like the things they say online to someone (depending on age and how much of an ass they really are). Hiding behind a keyboard gives people strength. Whether they know it can be traced back to them or not, they won’t be reprimanded in the immediate future right at the time they post. And, let’s be honest, most kids don’t think much further into the future when they post things. (This is a generalization. Of course there are mature kids out there who think about these things. Right or wrong, I’m just guessing it’s not the bullies.)

Maybe I’m biting off more than I can chew with this post, but here are the main thoughts I have about this intertwined and probably highly controversial topic:

1. Don’t let people’s glamorous online lives as shown by social media posts make you feel bad about yourself, your life or your decisions in life, or make you wish you were like them, did more cool things like them or feel like you are less worthy of a person. (Seems easy enough, but think of the last time you were jealous of someone because of what they posted online, what they were doing, etc. It might not be that hard to find an example.)

2. Online bullying seems to me like weak kids sitting safely behind a keyboard just being mean because they know they won’t get in trouble instantly for doing it. And let’s face it, sometimes kids are just mean.

3. This type bullying shouldn’t be taken to heart. A very difficult concept for young, insecure, impressionable kids, be it college, high school or younger.

When taken to heart, these kids really do think their lives are over and then, BANG! You’ve got the beginning premise of the movie Unfriended.

Now that I’ve come full circle, feel free to tell me how I’m too old to truly understand cyber bullying because Facebook didn’t exist publicly until after I graduated from college (now I feel old). One thing I heard from a friend – that I also believe and that applies to this conversation: no matter how bad things are right now, it’s not worth taking your life. I believe his exact words were, “Suicide is the easy way out.” It’s giving up. It’s quitting. And nobody wants to be a quitter.

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