Social Media: Making Or Breaking Greek Life?
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Politics and Activism

Social Media: Making Or Breaking Greek Life?

"We have also watched many fraternities and sororities get blasted as a result of the actions of one member or a small group of people."

Social Media: Making Or Breaking Greek Life?

We are a generation that has grown up watching social media rapidly integrate into our everyday lives. Everything we say or do ends up on Facebook or Twitter. In a world where privacy is quickly becoming a myth, Greek life has been able to broadcast our great successes. Unfortunately, we have also watched many fraternities and sororities get blasted as a result of the actions of one member or a small group of people. 

Anonymous applications like FireChat, Yik Yak and Gaggle make it even easier for distasteful things to spread because there is no one to be held accountable for what is said. It doesn’t even necessarily have to be true. When bad things do happen, those situations escalate rapidly when put onto a social media platform, and the results can be disastrous. It is not fair that a whole organization can be torn apart due to the mistake of one member. 

It is the Greek community’s responsibility to pick members who will represent them in the best light possible and to educate them in the belief that everything you say or do reflects upon your letters. But, I do not believe an entire fraternity or sorority should lose its charter because of the misguided actions of one member. It is the job of the fraternity or sorority to discipline that member. If their actions merit suspension or probation, then that should be a decision made by their local and national leaders, not the entire population of the United States.

Many people don’t realize that anyone, with the proper amount of alcohol or final exam anxiety, can go off their rocker and do or say something unexpected. Someone can have everything together and seem like a great asset to Greek life and then make a mistake. Therefore, it is impossible for a fraternity or sorority to promise that every single member they initiate will be a perfect representation of their ideals. Social media has a large tendency to take a mistake in judgment, turn it into something that can ruin an individual, and, in return, ruin an entire organization. 

Am I saying that I approve of the “rape bait” letter sent around a Georgia Tech fraternity or the explicit letter written by a sorority woman at the University of Maryland to her chapter? No. They were inappropriate and written in bad taste. However, I believe that social media takes something and turns it into a much bigger deal than it is. Greek life, as a whole, suffers during these instances because every mistake an individual makes causes the entire Greek population to look ridiculous.      

Jokes made in bad taste should get shot down, but that does not mean a whole chapter should get shot down. In the above examples, those letters were intended for a specific group of people. The expectation is that within your organization, there is a level of trust and secrecy. The occurrences were outrageously inappropriate, but they should have been handled internally.

In the corporate world, when employees send around inappropriate emails or perform an act of wrong-doing, they are written up or terminated. The whole company does not close its doors because of one employee having a minor lapse in judgment. In situations with Greek life, chapter leaders need to step up, be responsible and handle these problems before they get the chance to go too far. There should never be situations where these things become public. The person in question should be reprimanded immediately, and the issue should be handled quietly.

Whoever leaked those letters probably did so because they found the content so outrageous that they felt they absolutely had to show someone outside of their organization. They probably had no intention of starting the social media storm that they did. Nonetheless, it happened and there were consequences – not just for the writers of those letters.     

We are a generation that has little hesitancy to post our thoughts online or say whatever we feel like saying. Did anyone really need to know that I got McDonalds at midnight last night? Probably not, but I tweeted about it anyways. Things that should stay private, or stay within a certain group of people, get spread around. The whole world watches us grow up, and we are faced with all our failures and all of our successes being put in the spotlight.

If fallen Disney stars of the past 20 years serve as any example, we can clearly see how growing up in the world’s eyes can cause even the smallest of incidents to spiral out of control. The lesson we can learn from these controversies is to highlight our greatest successes as well as think twice before we say something we could regret.

No one wants to filter everything they say or do because it’s tedious, but we have to take initiative when negative situations arise and handle them before they become a social media nightmare. It’s not fair that we face losing whole chapters as a result of one person’s bad judgment, but we have to be ready to handle it when those situations arise.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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