Toxicities on Facebook impact Cherry Hill community members too


Courtesy of the New York Times

Facebook is shattering as the toxicities on the social media platform become more and more recognized.

It’s hard to believe that social media was once just a tool to connect those from across the world and sometimes create real, positive change. In 2006, when Facebook and Twitter first launched, they were groundbreaking platforms that were going to be used by the younger generation to save the world. Fast forward 15 years later, Twitter is widely known as one of the most toxic platforms on the internet, while Facebook has created an unprecedented division between millions of people and even our own community members here in Cherry Hill.

Facebook has been prone to creating a toxic environment surrounding politics because without any substantial data, people have the agency to make outrageous claims and face little to no consequences. In real life, it is much easier to have the proper etiquette when discussing a controversial issue with a person you know and have respect for. However, in this new virtual world, you don’t have to be educated or even sincere to give an opinion and have thousands of people back you up or thousands of people hate you for it.

Racism has been a huge issue for a long time, and on social media, people are easily able to speak on sensitive topics. In Cherry Hill, issues involving race are often spoken about on Facebook. Those running for Cherry Hill council often have opinions on race in America. Some have their own agenda when speaking on this sensitive topic and others are genuine with their efforts to make the world a better place for everyone. But one thing is for sure, disagreements are sure to happen. Race in America is something that affects millions on a deep level, and Facebook gives a huge platform to speak on the topic to anyone and everyone. It is not necessarily bad for people to share their opinions; however, it is such a hurtful thing for racists to be allowed to thrive on an app like Facebook. Facebook does not do anything about this because they don’t care as long as people stay on the app. Recently, a Facebook whistleblower by the name of Frances Haugen has come out and outrightly stated that the company prioritizes profits over the public’s well-being. What better way to keep people on your app than to allow and encourage them to limitlessly discuss or rather argue about an issue that has been relevant to society for hundreds of years.

The politics surrounding COVID-19 take up their own space in Cherry Hill’s Facebook community as well. On one hand, you have those who think it shouldn’t even be a political issue, rather a factual, health issue. Others believe COVID-19 is a hoax meant to take away our rights and harm our children. In fact, in Cherry Hill, many on Facebook have put pressure on the Board of Education to “unmask the children”. Masks are proven to be effective in preventing COVID-19 by keeping germs from reaching your mouth and nose. In the crazy world of social media, fake news spreads faster than real news which creates ignorance. Millions of people have made posts about COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, and it is impossible for all of them to be fact-checked. For reasons extremely tied to social media, COVID-19 is now a political issue, and over past years political parties have become more polarized than ever. Once again, disputes are created around posts, and Facebook only gains from it. This toxic environment is created because on Facebook everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. A statement that carries a lot of weight can be dismissed in a split second by a person just reading it on a screen. It is a whole other world where harsh things can be said and empathy never has to be felt.

Harmful thinking on Facebook has been supported and those who try to oppose this kind of thinking usually end up in a never-ending argument. When someone says something controversial in this day and age, a disagreement becomes a constant back-and-forth. It is a cycle of pointlessness that thousands of people’s mental health have fallen victim to. Arguing with people who have no problem invalidating your existence can take a toll.

The political atmosphere of Facebook wasn’t always this argumentative, but as the world advanced, people took advantage of the opportunity to share their opinion to the masses. Soon enough, people chose what side they took on issues, and in the last 10 years, political polarization in America has increased immensely.
If a town like Cherry Hill has approximately a few hundred people who consistently argue and insult each other on Facebook, take a second and imagine this on a global scale. The normalization of toxic behavior will no doubt have long-term effects on humans collectively and implement its way into real life-behaviors. It is crucial we take a step back from the crazy world of social media and stop the spread of negative mindsets or the results could be disastrous.