15 February 2016 // At St. John's University

Nothing On The Internet Is "Private"

Seriously, it's 2016.

Wandy Felicita Ortiz

Recently, there have been strings of events nationally, globally and within our immediate communities that have been created, amplified and blown out of proportion thanks to the popularity of social media. Social networking is the stuff that destroys relationships, workplaces and life-long reputations with just the click of a button. I still use social media anyway, don’t get me wrong. I use it to stay connected with friends and keep up on internship opportunities. I research and discuss political and cultural issues that are of interest to me, like not many people do, but should do. The Internet is a great platform on which to express your opinions and converse with like-minded individuals to further strengthen your knowledge base. That being said, it is also going to be an environment that if you put out a particular idea, I promise you that you will be met with dissenting viewpoints.

You can be well-read on your stance or you can know absolutely nothing about it and have an uninformed opinion--either way, both of those things are your right.

If you are going to discuss politics, religion, culture, etc. online, can you just do us all a damn favor and do your research before you go on your four paragraph Facebook rant, put your foot in your mouth and then complain when you experience backlash from your uneducated claims. It’s torture for all of us if we don’t unfollow your content. And by research, I don’t mean a compilation of your most recently favorited tweets relating to the subject. Look. It. Up. On credible sites that agree with your views, and also, those that don’t. Pretending that your opinions are the only ones that exist is essentially the same as being willfully ignorant. Don’t get caught with your pants down to then complain about it. If you’re not afraid to be challenged by others, come prepared.

If you’re somebody who can’t handle conflict or criticism, don’t send yourself to the doghouse by posting online until you’re ready to handle what comes of it. You know yourself better than anybody. In addition, if you’re interested in subtweeting, talking smack about people or whining online, be careful.

Whether your account is private or public, there is this very amazing technological invention called a screenshot--nothing you do is sacred or safe. Screenshots aside, there are lots of other sneaky, nifty ways that internauts have developed to keep tabs on the activity of one another online.

I’ll admit that I have done my share of whiny tweeting on my "private" account. However, I am also the type of person who has grown enough of a pair that if I have an issue with someone, I will speak to them in person. Sometimes I'll write something subtweet-ish and I'll delete or undo it because I recognize that I might as well behave as an adult and do this in person. Even if you have absolutely no idea what you're talking about but you still feel confrontational, I promise you that getting testy face-to-face is way more satisfying than doing it over social media. It also needs to be said that if you have a particular disdain for somebody based upon their political or social views, nothing you say to them will sway their opinion--whether they’re “wrong” or you’re “wrong”.

They will change their minds of their own volition if they feel your points are valid.

It’s difficult to be an impassioned advocate of a cause and have your arguments fall upon deaf ears. However, it is not our job to shove our ideologies down the throats of others, no matter how justified we may be. It is our job to educate one another and help orient our society in the direction of the morally just. For some, this comes in leaps and bounds. For others, this comes in baby steps. Just be aware of what you’re saying online, why you’re saying it and how you’re saying it. Even if you mean well by what you're writing, going about it with a good leg to stand on will help you avoid being mixed up in a situation you can't get out of. As much as we think we can get away with what we do online, the reality is that we can't.