Laura Juanes Micas, of Facebook, center, talks to visitors about the how teaming data and social media can help people live healthier lives, at the Facebook booth, at eMerge Americas technology conference, at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Tuesday, June 13, 2017, in Miami Beach, Fla. eMerge Americas is a platform for the advancement of technology, a forum for idea exchange, and a launch pad for innovation connecting Latin America, North America, and Europe. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Webster: Memes have more power than you think

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By Hannah WEbster

hannah-webster@uiowa.edu

When it comes to social media, we millennials tend to act carelessly and not think of the potential outcome from our actions. Whether it is cyber-bullying or even just liking an inappropriate picture on Twitter, the actions on social media are not as private as people often think they are, and they could suffer serious consequences.

This harsh reality recently affected several students who were once bound for Harvard. Weeks before graduating from high school, the students experienced a rude awakening when they were told that they could not further their education at Harvard because of misconduct on a Facebook group. “Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens” was the name of the Facebook group that included offensive memes that led to the revoked admissions.

I’m not condoning any of these behaviors, but first of all, the name of the group could not be any more amateur. Guys, you were accepted into Harvard; couldn’t anyone think of a better name? The creator of this title must have not put too much thought into it considering that is not even that creative or funny. Also, the members of the group clearly don’t know that using the term “bourgeois” or “boujee” has already gone out of style.

Thousands of memes are created as we speak, and some of the best ones go viral. Most memes poke fun. For example, the SpongeBob or the Crying Jordan memes have been very popular recently. Although the Crying Jordan may be offensive to Michael Jordan himself, a majority of memes are not patently offensive. Memes are made out of boredom and intended to start jokes.

But in this case, the memes shared among these students were not lighthearted jokes — they included jokes on sexual assault, racism, and the Holocaust, among other touchy subjects.

I get it: Tagging your friends in funny posts and memes is hilarious. Sometimes on social media, however, we all need to take the responsibility upon ourselves and just chill. In the generation of growing up with technology, we millennials know how important it is to be smart when portraying yourself on the Internet because future employers, or anyone for that matter, can find you.

From a young age, the use of social media is important. The day you start using social-media platforms and put your name and face out there, you start networking, whether you know it or not. These days, I find it annoying when Facebook friends or people I follow on Instagram share careless and inappropriate pictures or posts. This could be due to my mother constantly reminding me how important it is to be conscientious on the Internet, but I find it rather ignorant of people to share things that do not reflect them well as a person. Thanks, mom.

This sticky situation that these Harvard-bound students got themselves in abruptly affected their future. I’m still not sure how these students thought that they would get away with making this group, but I hope they learned their lesson and have realized the impact social media can have. And anyone, at any age, can learn from these kids’ experience that social media can change a person’s life in a matter of moments.

Older generations tend to use the millennial generation as a punching bag, accusing the members of being lazy and not so smart, but these stupid actions of around 10 students or so do not define us all. Millennials are great. We are the future and have the chance to change the world, but we have to remember to be conscious of our Internet presence. It’s 2017; it’s about time to get our act together on the Internet.

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