The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Facebook gone wrong

Most of us know that Facebook is a social networking site, a communication tool used to keep in touch with your friends from high school, your favorite cousin, or that foreign exchange student from Switzerland you connected with. But recently, Facebook has been used for more than just adding 57 comments to someone’s wall post or tagging your friends in funny and mortifying pictures.

An increasing amount of violence has been associated with and distantly connected to the site, proving that a frightening number of tweens and teens just don’t know when to stop.

A few weeks ago, a 12-year-old boy was mercilessly beaten by his middle school-aged classmates twice in the course of one school day. Why? The California boy was a redhead, or “ginger.” Apparently a posting on Facebook indicated that the day was “Kick a Ginger Day,” prompting many impressionable middle school-aged kids to target the redheaded boy and take their aggressions out on him.

This violence is absolutely wrong on multiple levels. Inflicting violence on someone based solely on their hair color – a trait they cannot control – is just as horrible as persecuting groups of people based on their skin color or ethnicity.

While this seems painfully obvious to most individuals, middle school-aged children are still learning about themselves and society, ethics, morality and knowing right from wrong. But while children are learning these valuable life lessons, they certainly don’t need a Web site prodding them in a violent, aggressive direction.

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Most people would see a “Kick a Ginger” post on Facebook and never take it seriously. It’s just that – one person’s post on an enormous website, not in any way an invitation to channel aggression towards people of a specific hair color.

This alone prompts a multitude of other worries: Do we, as a culture, not know when to stop? Do we take things too far? And worse yet, are we teaching this kind of reckless behavior to younger, more impressionable generations?

The answer is yes. It is not Facebook’s fault that the 12-year-old redhead was beaten, it’s his classmates.’ This in itself poses yet another question: what are middle school-aged kids doing on Facebook in the first place?

The 11-to-13-year-old demographic likely has no real need for social networking; their social networks likely don’t extend outside the cafeteria at lunchtime.

Allowing a middle school-aged child on Facebook is similar to allowing them to watch violent, suggestive, or explicit content on television.

Middle school-aged kids are arguably the most impressionable age group on the planet, and exposing them to content they’re not yet mature enough to handle could significantly warp the views of this young generation.

A perfect example of this is their reaction to “Kick a Ginger Day.”

The young students did not realize that the post was a joking, sarcastic social commentary and never meant to be violently carried out against redheads.

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Facebook gone wrong