Virginia Calcagni, Staff Writer:
Social networks and their effect on the community are readily talked about as well as the idea and situation of cyber bullying.
Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Skype and Stickam, to name a few, are all homes to millions of young people using the internet to express themselves.
I was sitting at home flipping through the new May issue of Rolling Stone the other day, and I came across an article that really struck me.
I read my “Rolling Stone” backwards because I read the charts and reviews first and then flip through for the rest of the articles.
This is important because the page that I thought was the first of the article, wasn’t.
The article was about a young woman whose online name is Kiki Kannibal. The article was about how her life has been destroyed by social networking.
The first picture that I saw was the one where the words start and the look on this girls face is what made me read the article. She looked miserable.
After I read the article I flipped and saw the first page which was just a collage of pictures with the article name, and I became glad that I saw this last, because it really makes you think. This girl was expressing herself and got nothing but hurt.
Bullying is an issue in every high school, elementary, and middle school around, even before the cyber world, and before social networks there was instant messaging, this concept is nothing new.
However, what seldom gets noticed is the fact that hey, this is ruining peoples’ lives. There have been cases where young women have been exposed on social networks, or have committed suicide because of a wall post.
So where is the line drawn?
Social networking is evil, but it is something that aids in networking with companies, people, or even finding news stories to research through statuses.
The article that I read about this young girl that was 14 when her horror story started really opened my eyes. The computer is a safety net, it makes things easier for people, because they can hide their identity.
People are safe behind a computer screen, they don’t have to face the consequences of what they are doing, or how it is going to effect the people they are targeting.
Some people may say this girl was 14, she shouldn’t have been on a social network, but honestly who was actually 16 when they signed up for Mypace? Everyone just put in the wrong birth year and ta-da they were in, how the heck was Myspace going to know?
This particular situation revolves around the victim, whose real name is Kristen Ostrenga, and some may look at the pictures of her and say “she is dressed up too mature for her age,” and some might even go to saying she looks loose.
But let us not forget how many profiles we have seen with people half naked, and the fact that high schools are in an uproar about sexual text messages. The way this young women is dressed could come on as her trying to model.
The story is heartbreaking, as are most of the stories the general public hear about harassment online.
Being pulled out of public school because she didn’t fit in and having no friends or contact with the outside world, Ostrenga got permission from her parents to have a Myspace to have social contact. She created herself as Kiki Kannibal, having a scene style and a love for fashion, she quickly was loved and just as quickly hated.
Her house got vandalized; she received hate mail, and got abused by the one person she met that she thought cared.
How far are people going to let this go,–parents, teachers, police–obviously bullying is never going to end, but targeting someone because of how they present themselves on an online website is ridiculous.
Are the connections that we get through social networking worth what it puts people through? Kiki Kannibal is still a household online name, feeling that if she leaves the internet she lets the haters win.
But the question still rings true, how far can we let this go? How can we fix this? And how many people are going to suffer, and be afraid of who they are because people can be cruel?
I watch Britney Spears and Rihanna run around in their undergarments as young as most of us and that is okay, where is the line drawn?
As the social networking empire goes, so does the number of teenagers, and even adults getting bullied, threatened and hurt every day.
School shootings, fights, and threats are thrown online and attention is not paid. When is it going to end? Is it ever going to end? I guess we have to wait and see.