It is my belief that the modern youth faces more social pressure from peers to conform to the majority opinion than any generation thus far, in part due to social media.
On January 24, 2017 at 3:19 p.m., I posted a tweet to my personal Twitter which read “@realDonaldTrump I voted for you. How could you? #NoDAPL,” following the path of many who shared tweets along the same line.
My original plan was to record only the first 24 hours, but messages continued on and in some cases started to get worse. Below are two of the progress pictures I took.
In doing so, I had hoped to reveal to older generations the cyber abuse young adults face when they speak out against the commonly held ideals. I was expecting roughly 20 interactions with other Twitter users, including replies, favorites and retweets. My average tweet receives only four “likes.” At the end of a 48-hour cycle, my reply to Donald Trump received 36 replies, 96 retweets, 188 likes, and countless quotes, screenshots and messages.
Most, roughly 93%, of the replies and messages I received were negative and a great portion of that percentage were death threats or suggestions of ways I should commit suicide.
I wanted to include some of those quotes and replies (I will not be including possibly triggering messages or tweets).
Some users were very nice and even started to fight against some of the people who continued to harass me.
Some users, I found, were not just harassing me, but others as well. When I went to look at some of my attacker’s pages, I noticed that they seemed to be accounts meant solely to go after people with differing opinions.
After informing the twitter user @alibiani that I would be using her tweet in my study, I looked at her profile to find her doing the same to many others. I then informed her that I had taken screenshot of her most recent tweets and replies. Seven minutes afterwards all of the tweets I had recorded were gone.
Then there was an outlier of sorts, a girl who was adamant about the idea that I had in fact not voted for Trump and that this was just a means to reel people in.
I informed her that this was for a social experiment. And she decided that she knew what was happening. In her mind, because I had ideas that conflicted with some of the ideas of our current president, that I had in fact not voted for him.
I decided to see how she was treating others because if she was deliberately causing problems with me because she assumed I hadn’t voted for one candidate over another, she must have been going through all of the replies to D. Trump’s tweets and inserting her opinion. I found an abundance of tweets that could be considered “cyber bullying” but this particular tweet stood out to me:
This was a tweet to another user who had asked a genuine question to a user who had tweeted D. Trump, ending her tweet with “I don’t mind, I’m simply curious.” The irony of the situation struck me, but this observation is more of a side note.
I asked this user why she cared about who I had voted for and she continued to escalate her verbal assault.
In the 48 hours, or more, that I became relatively “Twitter famous,” I saw the evil and malicious intent of my generation. I now have a first hand account of speaking out and being different and the reaction my generation has to people who do so. My generation, the millennials, preach acceptance and individuality, but the moment someone is different they mirror the reactions of past generations: they get scared, they get defensive, and then they attack.
My tweet was “screenshotted” and sent all over the internet as a means to deter others from speaking out. Though I did receive support, it was few and far between, hidden by the hundreds of interactions I received.
Although my generation would like to believe that we are the generation of altruism and individuality and love and kindness, I would go as far to say that it is anything but. We are a generation of judgement and harassment and hypocrisy.
I known there is a positive correlation between mental illnesses, like depression, and time spent on social media, especially Facebook. We compare ourselves to others, but not the whole of an individual, only what they would like us to see. Concurrently, we are facing the judgement of others, possibly a great number of others.
On any given day, my roommates will go to each other and ask “is this a good picture to post,” “what filter should I use,” or “what should my caption be.” We all crave the approval of our peers and from this experiment I have learned that the only way to appease your peers is to conform to their opinions.
This is the sad truth of a contradictory generation plagued by unforgiving labels, progressive technology and hypocritical ideals.
This is more of a personal observation take on the study I am formally writing and publishing as part of my psychology capstone project. The study I will have formally peer-reviewed and published is a lot more scientific. All individuals used in this post were notified.
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