Odyssey is a wonderful platform that allows college students, such as myself, to express themselves. Writing articles that I can publish on my social media gives me the freedom to write about whatever topic I'm intrigued or plagued by at the moment, and I know that at least a handful of people will actually read what I have to say. However, the fact that Odyssey's thousands of writers have such free roam when it comes to choosing a topic to write about comes at a cost.
Odyssey's Facebook page regularly promotes certain articles and, though I am not sure what puts one article in the limelight over another, some of the promoted articles are rather poorly written. And while the promoted work is poorly executed, some of the articles are simply written in poor taste.
I recently stumbled across a piece essentially vouching for people to stay in toxic relationships to help their significant other through mental health issues (with a cover photo of Mac Miller, nonetheless). Another article shames women wearing leggings and running shorts for purposes other than exercise.
The comments sections for both of these articles were filled with angry reactions, and people avidly disagreed with the content. In the case of the Mac Miller article, commenters shared personal stories of what happened when they stayed in a relationship with someone who had a mental illness (and vice versa). The majority of commenters claimed that making someone feel like they ought to stay with you because of your mental health is emotional and mental torment and abuse. The article was not at all well-received, and neither was the fact that Odyssey promoted the article, to state the obvious.
I understand that freedom of speech is a real thing, yes, and that a large portion of Odyssey's draw lies in its claim that you may publish anything you wish to. However, I think the platform should be filtered at least somewhat; the executive team should take measures to establish a set of guidelines on what is and what is not acceptable, while hindering creativity to the least extent possible. For example, content that would be deemed widely inappropriate should be sent back to the creator for them to drastically revise, or the content should be outright nixed.
Unfortunately, filtering content is a widely subjective process and not liable to happen. Even adding trigger warnings to potentially triggering or touchy material could be complicated to implement, again because of the subjectivity involved. How does one determine what is triggering? How do you determine whether one article is polarized more appropriately or is written about something more relevant than another article?
I applaud Odyssey's all-inclusive approach of allowing students to explore the depths and whims of their minds via publishing written works. However, I do wish there was a system in place to set the tone for what kinds of articles should not be allowed, or at least what kinds of articles the Odyssey page chooses not to promote. Though I cannot offer a plausible solution for this right now, I hope this article brings awareness to the issues that condoning problematic and toxicity-promoting articles can have.