www.whyville.net Aug 28, 2011 Weekly Issue

Senior Times Writer

The Power of the Internet

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When on the Internet, it can be very easy to forget how powerful this source of entertainment, information, and communication is. Everything you submit and upload on the web can come back and bite you. Though it may seem a bit "stalkerish" for someone to locate your social networking pages and accounts, it is possible. Anything you publish on, for example, your Facebook wall is recorded, even if you delete it. Anytime you have ever cyber-bullied someone, posted personal information to a friend on their wall, or in general just said something you've regretting and deleted, it has been put on the Facebook database. Through search engines like Google, these posts can be found. It may seem unnecessary to think twice about what you say, but it could help you in the long run. You never know when something you have said a year ago could affect you today.

A few years ago, I was fairly new to social networking. Like your average middle-schooler, I made myself a Facebook account, and instantly began adding all my friends. I uploaded some pictures of myself, wrote a few cute statuses, and began liking my friends' things. Everything about the site seemed so innocent - like it was the perfect place to interact with my friends. Little did I know how badly it could hurt.

After school each day, I would log onto Facebook. I'd scroll through my newsfeed, check out my notifications, and see if any of my friends had new pictures up. Once I was done with all this, I would play my favorite Facebook game. In this game, you can answer questions about your friends and they would either be posted on their wall, or unlocked with coins. I was addicted to finding out the answers to questions asked about me, even if I didn't like them. (You gained coins from answering questions about people, and used them to unlock answers.) Now, I think the whole game is stupid, but back then it meant a lot to know what people thought of me.

One time I got a notification saying that someone I didn't care for had answered a question about me. I was very annoyed when I saw that I had to unlock it through questions. Why couldn't it have just been one of those ones that publish the answer on my wall? Even though it irked me to answer a million questions about people, I just had to know what the answer to, "Does Marissa have good fashion sense?" I usually took the time to read the questions, pick answers I knew people would like to unlock or read on their wall, but I wasn't in the mood to do all that.

Now, I really wish I would have.

I found out that the person I wasn't too fond of didn't think I had good fashion taste, which I had expected, but still was disappointed from. I was kind of in a bad mood, and decided to just log off Facebook.

Several hours later, I came back on and saw I had 3 notifications. I clicked on the red sign and read the descriptions of my notifications. Apparently, two people had liked my post, and several people had commented on it. I was pretty curious as to what was going on, so I clicked the notifications.

A knot twisted in my stomach.

The post was one of those automatic ones from the question game, and it was on one of the more unpopular girls at my school's wall. It read, "Does Marissa think so-and-so looks better than an ape?" "No."

Not only was I mortified that I had posted this, but I was angry at how stupid I had been. Why didn't I realize that something like this could have happened? I felt even guiltier once I saw that two people had liked it and people had commented, "LoL," and "Nice one xD."

I instantly deleted this, but the damage was done. She had seen it and so had many people probably.

The worst part of the whole situation to me is that when I type all of the words from the post in Google, a link to that post shows up. Even though I apologized and straightened everything out, it made me realize how powerful the Internet is. It is so easy to hurt somebody's feelings unintentionally, and it is very hard to permanently get rid of it.

I challenge you all to make extra special care to watch what you say. Even if you are upset, angry, or feeling some sort of emotion you may regret, don't say things you wouldn't normally say because of them. It's hard to tell what will come back and hurt you later on, so be wary of anything really.


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