What A Single Tweet Can Do


Sofi Zeman, Editor-In-Chief

     Social media. Not only is is something that we all have, it’s something that we all need. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. At the click of a button, the world has become progressively smaller in the past decade. We are now able to connect friends and families, businessmen and women alike from thousands of miles away. While there are multiple, clearly evident advantages to it, the drawbacks are considerable as well.

     It all started when I went to Edwards Apple Orchard with my cross country team. We had a good time, goofing around with the goats and buying pumpkins just for fun. It was just a simple, care-free afternoon. It was on the drive home that everything changed. I live in Belvidere, which is a little bit further from the Orchard. Due to my complete and utter lack of sense of direction, I had to use a GPS to  get home and, eventually, meet my friend at Jo-Ann Fabrics to get material for our homecoming week togas. For some reason, my phone would not stop glitching. The mapping system took me all over the backcountry of Northern Illinois. I was lost. So lost. There were points where I had no idea where I was going and others that I was on the highway. It was a mess. I was a mess. I do not know how in the slightest, but I somehow ended up at the store. By the time we finished up, I was tired, confused and ready to go home.

     The drive back home felt especially long, for once. My bed was calling my name and all I wanted was to be back in it. As I drove down Olson Rd, I was forced to slow down because there was a cyclist in the middle of the road. I could not pass them because there were cars in the oncoming lane. I waited behind them for what felt like an eternity. It had been a long day and the less patient side of me was outraged. Nonetheless, I waited.

     As any other overly dramatic  seventeen year old girl would react to an annoying situation, I took to Twitter. In hopes of turning a bad day into a joke, I posted a message, which read: “People who bike in the middle of the road are the worst. Lol.”  

    It wasn’t meant to draw attention. It was something I did without thinking. That night, I went to bed early, bringing an end to a very long day. The next morning, things took a turn for the worse.

     It was a normal Monday morning, just like any other. I rolled out of bed, got ready for school and grabbed my phone on my way out. I hadn’t looked at it all morning, failing to notice the dozens of notifications that were waiting to be viewed. When I finally opened Twitter, I was shocked to see multiple comments on my most recent tweet. Maybe someone thought it was funny? Maybe my older brother, who often comments on my posts, was just poking fun at me? Nope.

     The cyclist community was furious. Various, cycling-related accounts left comments, diagrams and negativity on my page. Many judged me for my impatience and asked why I felt that cyclists were worse than rapists and murderers. Without even trying to, I offended an entire group of people. They were everywhere. Naturally, I felt a little bad. These people were genuinely hurt by something that I didn’t think was a huge deal at all. So, I deleted everything and took something from it: while this may have been an overreaction, it made me realize just how dangerous social media can be. Even if it’s not intended, people’s words have the capability to hurt someone, on a minor scale and  beyond that.