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“Twitter, do your thing”

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A screenshot from a Naperville Central High School student’s private Instagram story went viral on social media on Tuesday. The screenshot contained xenophobic and Islamophobic statements and focused around 9/11. The backlash was immediate as the screenshot was shared over multiple social media platforms. One student from Metea tweeted the photo alongside Naperville Central’s school contact information and directed viewers of the tweet to contact the school and inform them of their student’s actions by saying “Twitter, do your thing.”

“Twitter do your thing” is the concept of finding people online and exposing them in a way that affects their everyday lives, such as getting them punished at their school or fired from their job. The tweet gained several thousand likes and retweets before Twitter removed the tweet on Wednesday.

This specific case of hate speech going viral on Twitter is not unique. In recent years the term “Twitter do your thing” has been typed and tweeted hundreds of times, directing users to doxx, expose, and report others. This method of receiving viral attention invites positive feedback, but negative backlash along with it.

The normalization of hate speech on social media is nothing new to our generation, with incidents similar to that of the Naperville Central student’s hateful and viral tweet occurring on a daily basis. While these tweets often go viral, no real change ever seems to happen. The perpetrators are usually disciplined by their academic institution or workplace, and within days the entire thing is forgotten. Many believe that punishment is the appropriate response to such incidences, but is it really?

The wrongdoers become online pariahs, and sometimes even end up leaving social media entirely. They receive hateful comments not just about their actions or opinions, but about their personal lives. Such treatment doesn’t encourage growth and change, but rather an even further radicalization of their beliefs. Instead of listening to the hurt thousands that made them viral, they will instead run back to like-minded individuals that will validate their opinions.

It’s easy to throw hateful slurs and threats right back to such individuals, especially behind a screen. But what does it solve? Supporting this viral injustice may seem like the right thing to do, and many will defend these actions by preaching that “they deserve it.”

But this isn’t creating change.

Feeling better about yourself because you contributed to someone else’s punishment isn’t activism, just a new breed of “slacktivism.” Retweeting or liking a post like this isn’t teaching anyone anything unless they are willing to listen and change, which is often the last thing such a perpetrator is thinking after going viral online.

This “social media justice” serves well at doling out penalties and shame, but does nothing to encourage actual dialogue and communication. How can we expect to eradicate hate speech when we are unwilling to explain why it is wrong? This is not to say that it is the job of the marginalized to constantly correct and educate others, but the burden must fall on someone. The extreme polarization of American politics is only worsening the divide between people, and the gap must be bridged.

Should hate speech be punished? Absolutely. Should the punishment also serve to help the person realize the depth of their actions? Yes. Rather than just suspension or expulsion, the administrators with the power to punish should consider more creative options. In instances of racist hate speech, maybe they should instead offer mandatory community service work with marginalized groups, such as volunteering at immigrant community centers.

Often, our issues stem from a lack of understanding of other people. When someone is sheltered from other perspectives their whole lives, they don’t develop empathy for people different than them. Liking or retweeting something negative isn’t saving the day or even real activism. This may actually end up pushing these perpetrators away from ever wanting to change or learn from their actions. So instead of isolating individuals that disagree with us, we should start educating and empathizing with each other.

About the Writers
Abbey Malbon, Spotlight Reporter

Abbey Malbon is in 11th grade and is a spotlight writer. She is involved with Literary Magazine, Best Buddies and Fresh Connect. She spends her free time...

Avani Shah, Headlines Editor

Avani Shah is a senior and Headlines Editor for Metea Media. This is her second year on staff. Avani is a black belt in Tang Soo Do. She can often be found...

Claudia Grzyb, Spotlight Writer

Claudia Grzyb is a senior at Metea Valley and is currently in her second year of being on staff. Claudia has been on the Metea Valley Speech team, and...

Esha Mandadi, Spotlight Reporter

Esha Mandadi is a senior and first-year spotlight reporter. She’s also a member of the speech team, and participates in BPA. Outside of school, she enjoys...

Lauren Coates, Headlines Reporter

Lauren Coates is a senior and a first year headlines reporter for Metea Media. She loves all things pop culture, including music, TV, movies, and celebrity...

11 Comments

11 Responses to ““Twitter, do your thing””

  1. HMMMMMMM on September 14th, 2018 11:38 am

    That’s why you gotta make sure you don’t involve yourself with snitches.

  2. consciousness on September 14th, 2018 12:27 pm

    While the student who tweeted ‘do your thing’ unapologetically fueled the fire, as one of the replies said, it is not the student’s job to educate another misinformed and racist student. It is nobody’s responsibility to encourage and grow someone who doesn’t even feel bad about their xenophobic and racial statements. Sorry to anybody defending her, but this is a matter of self-realization and growth. Not the students at NCHS, Metea, or anybody period.

  3. Speech is not a Crime on September 14th, 2018 1:00 pm

    Isn’t hate speech legal or something? Or is that just me?

  4. Borkus on September 17th, 2018 8:28 am

    really like this article

  5. фасол on September 17th, 2018 12:38 pm

    Some of this post could be seen as genuine, but there is one thing that deeply unsettles me a little bit and that is in the second to last paragraph
    “Should hate speech be punished? Absolutely.”
    This is deeply unamerican. The 1st Amendment protects speech, it protects hate speech, it protects your right to rebuttal to that speech and to the death will millions of Americans fight for this. The new trend amongst younger generations is the seclusion of their personalized ideology and the violent response to opposition of that ideology. This is a very dangerous way to go about things because this is relative to what happened in the cultural revolution. “Shame circles” in the cultural revolution was the shaming and disapproving of those who held the unpopular belief or said something out of line in Communist China. in the same way, if someone says something on the internet or in person their speech is shut down and shamed regardless of its intent and if it offends highly sensitive and unconditioned people. For the sake of the US, tolerate some bad words every now and then, don’t shut them down, instead rebuttle them

  6. darkstripe on September 18th, 2018 7:41 am

    the first amendment protects the freedom of speech- the government can’t punish you for hate speech alone. however, it doesn’t protect you from social consequences and being socially ostracized. for example, roseanne barr’s racist tweet from may isn’t illegal. she’s allowed to say that. but the first amendment doesn’t say “the freedom to have no consequences of speech”, the first amendment says “the freedom of speech”, and so it was completely legal for her show to be canceled. i do support rebutting hate speech and countering it with facts and experiences as you were saying in that last sentence, but you are never immune to social consequence and people who use the first amendment to complain about people calling them out on their bigotry deeply unsettle me.

  7. фасол on September 18th, 2018 11:11 am

    this is true, however, the term hate speech is now being spread into politics (standalone from social politics) at an alarming rate. in Canada, Bill c-16 condemns “hate speech” against LGBT members. This doesn’t seem bad at first but until you realize that that is an establishment of speech. People in American politics are lobbying for that same bill here. Hate speech starts social but will eventually try and break through to the political side of things and that’s when it gets dangerous. it starts social and eventually moves into political, so to stop it early on is the best course of option.

  8. hah lol on September 19th, 2018 7:05 am

    so i guess it takes 5 authors to write 670 words now

    thank you meteamedia, very cool

  9. Sick Bro on September 19th, 2018 7:14 am

    Metea Media trolled epic style?

  10. VOA on September 19th, 2018 7:56 am

    This is a truly dangerous article as its authors seem to be playing judge jury and executioner. That’s not the American way. Not to mention that a lot of peoples version of “hate speech” is skewed. By law, hate speech is categorized as ” A statement that is made with the intention of invoking an aggressive response” So unfortunately for the millennials and the liberals just because something offends you does not mean it’s hate speech. Not to say that true hate speech is never uttered. But that brings me to my next point. 1st Amendment. Under it, you can say anything freely without any consequence. That includes things that people may say are offensive or intolerant. And suggesting that anyone is punished for anything they say just because its “offensive” is a foolish notion. My favorite part of all of this is that these Democrats are saying they’re trying to eliminate discrimination and hate speech but then they discriminate against anyone who disagrees with them. Then they label them as racists and as intolerant jerks just because they have a different opinion. They’re literally trying to expose people who disagree with them and punish them for it. They’re trying to make the first amendment only apply to them through fear. And frankly it’s disgusting.

  11. jrmoh (psn) on September 19th, 2018 12:58 pm

    I guess hate speech be like that sometimes just settle it with a playground 1v1 or sum

Thank you for adding your voice to the conversation. Please note that all comments are moderated. Metea Media will not publish comments if they contain the following:

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