Recently, The Purge: Anarchy was released in theaters. The sequel to The Purge, The Purge: Anarchy is based on the idea that for 24 hours, there is no law. No restrictions; no consequences; no limits. Somehow, our generation managed to translate this to the Twittersphere.
People tweeted for days leading up to July 19, 2014, claiming that at 7 p.m., there would be a massive "purge." To many teens, this so-called purge meant exposing nude photos sent to them in confidence. For some reason, the thought of revealing other people's most private moments (and parts) enticed them. Participants vowed that there were no boundaries -- no limit to how far they would go.
Thus, a monster was born.
As the clock struck 7, the hashtag exploded with extremely graphic and private photos. Damage was dealt left and right. Reputations were destroyed, relationships shattered and my trust in humanity began to atrophy in a matter of minutes.
Looking back on it, I think there are several things that everyone can learn from the Twitter Purge (whether you participated in it or not.)
1. Relationships are more important than your follower count.
Sure, the people who posted particularly scandalous (a.k.a. damaging) photographs gained Internet popularity for a few hours. But does that hold any real value? If the cost of winning the approval of a stranger is baring those who placed trust in you as sacrifice, are you winning at all? (Hint: NO.)
2. If someone trusts you, don't betray his/her trust.
It's wrong. If you're trusted with something that could potentially hurt someone, don't use that to actually hurt him or her -- especially when it is something like a nude photo that can haunt them for the rest of their lives. You know what they say: What happens on the Internet never goes away and will follow you no matter where you try and run.
3. Don't do anything behind a computer screen that you wouldn't do in person.
For some reason that I can't even begin to understand, people are able to take on entirely different personalities while in front of a keyboard. Those who are shy suddenly become bold; those who are bullied become the bully. Perhaps this is part of the Internet's appeal. It's nice to play pretend to a certain extent. But, it stops being nice when you go too far in your boldness, and you start to become ruthless, doing things that you would never do to someone's face (i.e.: classic cyberbullying)
The damage of the Twitter Purge is done. As much as we may like to, we cannot go back and un-do it. What we can do, however, is make sure nothing like this ever happens again. We can do this by not praising/laughing/encouraging those who do continue to "expose" those who trust them with naked pictures as well as educating people about the dangers that come with the harm they're causing.
It's time to kill this Frankenstein that we have created.
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