A look at the draws and dangers of anonymous social media
by: Daven Roberts
After School, tbh, Sarahah, Ask.fm, Whisper, Rumr, YikYak. The world of anonymous social media is only growing. Apps like these have raced to the top of the charts over the past few years and now most high school students around the nation have downloaded at least one of the many.
Since the creation of social media it has increased the danger of bullying. New anonymous social media increase this risk even more because there is no way of knowing who is doing the bullying, making consequences impossible to enforce.
“[Anonymous social media] is the old school equivalent of writing on the bathroom wall. Actually, it’s worse because people that wouldn’t normally bully get sucked in and it creates more bullies. Even by having an account you are endorsing the bullying and saying it’s okay,” said Freshman Academy teacher Amy Fabry.
Rumors and behind the back bullying have been around forever and the high school climate gives room for that behavior to develop. It’s no surprise that these tendencies have carried over to the screen.
“If someone couldn’t say something with their name attached to it then they shouldn’t say it at all. Anonymous social media should be purely for fun but depending on who’s using it it could be dangerous,” said sophomore Ella Stone.
Of course, these apps were not originally made as open platforms for bullying but as a form of entertainment. There are many users that don’t experience negativity of any form, but there are also many accounts of bullying through the apps.
“High schoolers take everything to heart which makes [anonymous social media] even worse,” said Freshman Academy teacher Kim Thompson. Her colleague, Ms. Carney-Brush, added that “freshmen and underclassmen are especially vulnerable to other opinions and I suspect that’s who’s using it the most.”
Miscommunication is common in any form of technology but this escalates when the subject is one’s opinions on others.
“Another big danger with anonymous social media is that it’s so easy to read something in a tone that’s not intended,” said Freshman Academy teacher Rudy Bagos.
Even with schools conducting anti-bullying programs, 15.5 percent of high school students are cyberbullied according to a Youth Risk Behavior Survey done by the Center for Disease Control in 2015. This, however, only accounts for the reported incidents.
“I expect negative stuff to happen on all forms of social media. Negative comments happen more on anonymous social media because it’s anonymous. Nobody knows who said it,” said junior Jenna Smolen.
Negative comments may not always be directly bullying someone. Anonymous social media also holds “rankings” of people against their peers. Not making a “top 10 freshman girls” list or “the hottest EL guys” may also bring someone’s self-confidence down.
“My best advice is: do not get the app. If it’s out of sight then it’s out of mind,” said Freshman Academy teacher Jack Biggs.