OPINION: Stop Weaponizing Social Media

//GREYSON KOINZAN//

Social media is inherently reckless. By giving anyone the power to post whatever they want, it becomes a war zone of misinformation. With its extreme susceptibility to false news and rumors, social media must be used responsibly and respectfully.

Now, this isn’t a, “be careful on social media! :)” post. This is a call to action—a call to knowledge.

Recently, MVHS has been the subject of thousands of Twitter threads due to a video from earlier this year. That is a fact. These are not:** “Mountain Vista is a horrible place.” “Michael Weaver is a horrible person.” “The Vista kids who are defending the administration are all white and don’t care about these issues.” These are abusive opinions that have been circled around the internet in the last week or so.

These comments are primarily made by people who have little to no knowledge about the students, teachers, and community of Vista outside of a few highlighted incidents. These attacking, unknowing commentators are abusing the power of social media in a disrespectful and incompetent manner.

Social media is a platform for voice. Its purpose is to inform the world, not to allow unknowing, misunderstanding adults to brutally attack students of a specific school. The spread of false information has created a toxic environment for the distribution of truth.

After scrolling through thousands of comments from a variety of sides, I saw hundreds of tweets berating MVHS, the administration, and its students personally. I saw a few tweets that stated facts about the school rooted from first-hand experience. Out of the thousands of tweets I read, I was most disgusted by the ones that corrected and scolded MVHS students and the ones that blatantly denied the truth of the situation without an actual pursuit for the facts.

One Tweet. Allow me to repeat it once more for those who are being deafened by fallacy: one tweet sparked a wildfire of abuse and misinformation. This fire has highlighted the fragility of social media and its darkest side.

The fact that commentators number one: neglect the facts; two: berate an entire community for one misreported story; and three: spread hate and violence through ranting rather than taking action; is beyond appalling.

You cannot sit with your neck shaped for constantly looking at your phone and tell me, my community and the world that this/that is right/wrong without knowing the facts and taking action. Do not call yourself an activist if you are not willing to one, act like an adult and be respectful; two, look at the reality rather than your opinion and your perception of the reality; and three, take an actual stand against the issue you’re ranting about behind a screen.

I am one of the strongest proponents of using your resources and your voice. With that being said, here is my advice to all those who are involved in this virulent mess of falsehood…

Use social media as a platform for truth instead of a platform for emotional rampages. Use the power, the passion, the drive that your brain graces you with to take action beyond your Twitter feed–write your representatives, call the board, protest, and have controlled, honest conversations. Do not allow misinformation to fuel your rage. Use the facts to power your voice. Fake news is meant to create a toxic environment for change–don’t let a fallacy control you. Don’t sit there and complain. Do your research, take a stand, and actually make the change you want to see.

We need to have conversations about the racism, classism, antisemitism, sexism, and homophobia in the Highlands Ranch community, in Colorado and in the United States. However, we should never start these conversations with complete disrespect and without truth and research beyond a few Twitter threads.

Take a breath and think. Take time out of your thoughts, your radical emotions, and your biases to think. We need our voices to be effective: without the power of voice, we wouldn’t get anywhere in an attempt to change our world. However, with this power, comes an extreme need for responsibility and knowledge. Don’t sit on your phone and just talk without meaning; stand up, and make your voice matter.

**Note: these are not direct quotes. These are summations of thousands of quotes that discuss Mountain Vista.

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