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No, “Free Speech” Doesn’t Mean Social Media Is A Free-for-All

Social media is not your diary. Your “finsta” is not your haven for expressing your opinions in a poisonous manner that degrades those who disagree with you. Yes, we all have a human right to freedom of speech, but it’s what we choose to do with that speech–how we choose to use our voice that matters.

Social media is meant to be a place that you are free to build your own world, surrounding yourself by images, texts, and videos of things that interest you. It is a place that each person can make their own, whether that’s a landscape of fitness inspiration and diet tips, collages of the latest trends in fashion, travel, home design, food recipes, etc. What you should never forget, however, is that building your own place doesn’t give you a free pass to knock down others.

For example, if you are a highly politicized male who prides himself on how “well-versed” he is in today’s news, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but no, your constant Twitter retweets about how liberals are ruining the country and driving us all to socialism do absolutely nothing to contribute to society. Your Twitter rants just make you a contributor to the partisan rife you are so riled up against. The same goes for the neoliberal adult who thinks they know so much more than the younger generation simply because they spend all day on CNN and MSNBC. Regardless of party, your negative speech does nothing to build, and everything to destroy.

To the self-proclaimed fitness junkies and bodybuilders who decide to criticize articles about self-love after weight gain on their finstas as promotions of obesity—newsflash, you are not a certified nutritional expert. You have no idea of the struggle that is being okay with even water weight fluctuation for some people. What you deem a sign for someone to “take a little pride and take care of themselves more” is sometimes the culmination of years of struggle to reach a place where five extra pounds isn’t the beginning of a relapse into severe body dysmorphia.

Let me be clear, the expression of your opinions isn’t the problem. The problem is that you fail to offer a constructive solution or even acknowledge the intricacies of the issues you’re addressing. To the partisan Twitter user, why not expend your energy out campaigning for your party? Let the trigger-ready fingers you so apparently have be used for dialing potential voters. To the bodybuilder expert, why not focus on promoting healthy meal plans and advertising the positive mental effects of daily exercise? Your degrading words are doing nothing constructive, so why not turn your words to something positive?

Before posting, everyone should ask themselves “Is what I’m saying at all helpful? Is there any way my words could be taken as constructive?” I’m not saying that we all need to censor our social medias to be PC. I think that to some degree that can be harmful too. What I’m saying is, take a minute and be realistic and thoughtful about what you post and what your level of knowledge on the topic is. Social media is not meant to be your diary, and while it is a vessel of free speech, remember that it is also a place where you still have responsibilities to yourself and your following.

And with that, happy posting...


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Maya is currently a junior in Sargent College at Boston University, studying Human Physiology.
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