It is a virtual society where actions and comments still have consequences.
Social media is a dangerous weapon.
I use that comparison often. In the hands of a hunter, a gun can bring home a trophy or yield a batch of venison jerky for the office. You put that same weapon in the hands of a criminal and the outcome isn’t as tasty.
Social media is the same on a different scale.
Some people use social media to share life with their friends and family. They add humor to life and it can enrich relationships.
Other people use social media to put their emotional issues on display or spew hatred and discontent. Those people try to use this platform to suck friends and followers into their excremental vortex.
Some in the latter group use social media to an extreme degree. How many children have been bullied and emotionally abused over social media.
I have often called Twitter the most caustic environment in which humans can exist. There is even a new offshoot of Twitter that allows people to anonymously ask the Twitter user questions. You don’t have to look very far to see high school girls being asked horrible things of a sexual nature or being accused of unspeakable acts. They are often belittled and berated.
It usually takes about five seconds for some sexually deviant high school boy to ask perverted and self-esteem deflating questions. I don’t know why kids feel the need for attention so strongly that they subject themselves to this type of harassment.
But they do.
Also, how many marriages and other relationships have dissolved because of secret illicit relationships that formed or blossomed over Facebook, Twitter or other similar sites?
For one man in Oklahoma City recently, a comment on Facebook may have cost him his life.
A young woman took a photo of herself in a swimsuit and posted it on her Facebook page. She included the comment, “Me on my way swimin.”
A 48-year old man named Edmond James Tyree felt compelled to comment on that post.
According to The Daily Oklahoman, Tyree “wrote “damm” on Facebook, misspelling his compliment about the woman's photo.”
Five days later, the woman’s boyfriend – who also defended her honor with a profanity-laced comment below the one Tyree left – is believed to have entered Tyree’s apartment and shot the man and a friend.
Antwion Courtez Martin, 20, is charged with first degree murder and shooting with intent to kill.
He admitted to having words with the victim but denies shooting him.
So what can we learn from this incident and the other negative uses of social media?
It is a virtual society where actions and comments still have consequences. Real people still feel real emotions despite the fact that you merely post a status or make a comment.
Sometimes, those emotions spiral out of control and virtual comments lead to real crimes.
Also, selfies can kill. So stop posting 10 photos of yourself every day.
And remember that your time on social media is like virtually playing with an emotional weapon – or in the case of one Oklahoma City man, a real weapon.
Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org