By Emily Kline
On October 1, 2020, it was announced that President Donald J. Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Following this announcement many social media sites were flooded with harsh comments regarding the president’s current state. Many of these comments were death wishes and hopes for a negative outcome. Along with the death-wishes, there were people who, even though they didn’t support Trump, brought to light the ethicality of wishing the president’s death. Even the social media sites: Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok all released statements saying that wishing for the president’s death was not allowed. They stated that any death wishes regarding the president would be removed from their sites. This brings to question whether they released their statement just because he is the president, or if they would have done the same for any celebrity, or mundane person.
To me, there seems to be a double standard. We constantly hear about celebrities experiencing wishes of ill-will on their social media. As many celebrities report, it is a big reason why they do not maintain their own social media and let their managers do it. Cyber-bullying among teens and the average human is also very real, and very recent. Many death threats and unwarranted comments are sent to people every day, but not much is being done to prevent it. So why then does the president get special filtered treatment, when teens out there every day are getting verbally abused by their peers, sometimes even committing suicide as a result?
Death wishes are not something to be treated lightly, and I’m happy that social media put a stop to threats Trump was getting. But, it does not seem right that Trump gets protected immediately while so many people are suffering from cyber-bullying every day and nothing is being done to improve conditions for the average American. According to the I-SAFE foundation, “Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. In addition, more than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyberthreats online.” This is a very real, and very sad reality we face in our present society.
For many, the lines between the real world and social media are not as defined as they should be. Many people do not realize that what they do on the internet translates directly into reality. That if they say something mean to someone in a tweet or direct message they are hurting a real person. I support the practice of free speech in the United States, but I feel that there should be a limit to what we are allowed to put out on the internet for everyone to see. Social media can be used as a weapon to hurt others and the fact that essentially anyone can sign-up and run freely around spewing out whatever they want is a scary thought. I believe that people need to be better educated about social media and its impact before they are allowed to use it. In addition, there should be more restrictions on the average person and what they are allowed to say. Perhaps conversations should be monitored more closely and the consequences of the aggressor should be more extreme. More needs to be done about cyber-bullying for the average person. The fact that cyber-bullying is not spoken of unless a celebrity faces its negative effects, proves that we need to do more to bring it to attention. If we can generate more conversation about it then perhaps solutions will be easier to enact into the present.
Emily Kline is an editorial intern who is passionate and knowledgeable about fashion, beauty, and women empowerment.