Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Tweets Can Still Sting
Though the pain has died down, we can all remember the anguish that accompanied the loss of The Ding-Dong bell to Maumee this past season. For the Perrysburg community, several events will be remembered along with the final score.
In the hours leading up to the game, the superintendents of both Perrysburg and Maumee engaged in a lighthearted “twitter feud” to build the suspense of the rivalry. Todd Cramer, the Maumee superintendent, sent Tom Hosler, Perrysburg superintendent, a bouquet of purple flowers. In response, Hosler posted a series of video replies on Twitter, including dropping the flowers from the top of the Commodore building and putting them through a paper shredder.
Tweets even continued after the unfortunate Perrysburg loss. Hosler tweeted a picture of himself looking solemnly at the bell, holding a pamphlet in his hand. What was meant to be lighthearted turned sour in some students minds, as the pamphlet in Hosler’s hand was a self-help flyer, including the Toledo-area recovery helpline for mental health and addiction.
Some students saw this as poking fun at mental illnesses such as depression, while Hosler has a different interpretation. He saw the tweet as just another message given in regards to the rivalry. “The idea behind it was humor to express the feeling that something that has been with us so long now had to be painted purple,” he said. “We have to do something like sad or consoling.”
“You can have fun being in a rivalry and tease each other but not go too far… I’m hoping the tweets show that. I apologize to anyone who was upset by the tweet” he admits. “It wasn’t intended to poke fun but I can definitely see how a student could see that and take it that way.”
A quote from Mr. Hosler explaining his main concerns regarding students and social media behavior points out that the problem is not only behavior but what students look at.
I don’t think that social media causes anything but it does enhance it… for example, if you struggle with body image you can see all of the body shaming that is going on on social media.
With social media being so prevalent in our society today, this commentary serves as a catalyst for the conversation high schoolers should be having about social media etiquette in general.
The internet in the modern age can be best described as a double-edged sword. Today we have the world at our fingertips. If you desire information, you can access it at the drop of a hat. With the addition of social media into the online hemisphere, human connectivity is reaching new heights. However, this new privilege can be and is most likely used for negativity. With the new ability to use an anonymous alias online, the fear of repercussion is lost, which, in turn, opens a new channel for cyberbullying. As teenagers are in some of the most formative years of their lives, the exposure to harmful social media interactions can have extremely negative results, not only in mental health, but school experience in general.
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, a sample study showed that 34% of students age 12-17 had experienced cyberbullying in their lifetime. Out of that percentage, 64% of those students said that the cyberbullying really affected their ability to learn and feel safe at school.
Cyberbullying is a real issue among teens today: it crosses over into the realm of mental illness. Some of the effects that bullying and cyberbullying can cause are depression and anxiety, as well as changes in sleep patterns along with increased feelings of sadness and loneliness.
You might be wondering, so what? It may seem like something insignificant, but what’s not insignificant is the statistic that nearly 1 in 6 high school students have seriously considered suicide (as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
With a topic as serious as this one, it is extremely important to state that this is not a joking matter. Making light of mental illness may only increase the feeling of loneliness that teens with mental illness face. It sends the message that what they are going through is a joke, and demeans the seriousness of it.
And while our superintendent may have tweeted something unintentionally, the message still came across nonetheless. With people in the position of power making light of an issue, it sends the message that it is something that is okay to do. If an adult does it, it must mean that it’s acceptable, right?
In our day and age, a big topic among society is that people are too soft-shelled. People seem to get offended by every little thing. While I cannot speak for that, I can say that mental illness is never something to joke about. And while it may be unintentional, taking responsibility for the words you are saying is one of the biggest steps towards solving this issue.
When we initially approached Mr. Hosler about being interviewed on this tweet, he did not shy away from the possible scrutiny that he would face in front of this high school journalism class. He came to us during the school day to speak with us face-to-face and take responsibility for his actions. Anybody can make a mistake, including the superintendent of Perrysburg; yet not everybody can use that mistake as an opportunity to send a message to both the students and the community.
It’s difficult to be perfect when you’re in the position to always be judged, and Mr. Hosler knows that all too well. Being the one in charge of school delays and cancellations, any mild weather change can put him in the position to be harshly attacked on social media. Even looking at his tweet from Thursday (12/14) you can see 20 replies, the majority being harsh criticism. Frequently being on the negative end of social media comments speaks to his knowledge of when a comment or joke goes too far.
In the face of questioning, Mr. Hosler set a positive standard that those in power should set the record straight when it comes to their own mistake, and encouraged others not to repeat them. His actions remind us that social media is not a playground for ignorance and that people will be affected by the words that you say.
No matter who you are, think about what you are making light of and whether or not is it worth the five seconds of fame that it can achieve.
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