Respecting boundaries in a social media era


Natasha Vyhovsky, News Editor

Last week, nearly two dozen BVNW female students got a notification that they were added to a list on Twitter, created by a male student, which serves to publicly identify all the girls he wants to hook up with. Not only this, but he also tagged the girls’ twitter profiles, and some of the girls do not even know him. Although I am not on the list myself, I’m still extremely offended personally, as I imagine a lot of the girls on the list are. I don’t appreciate being catcalled on the street, and I especially wouldn’t appreciate it done by a distant school acquaintance online where it can be accessed by anyone – employers, boyfriends or girlfriends, teachers, etc. This superficial, degrading label is out there for the world to see forever.

After letting my initial rage subside, I began to notice the deeper aspect of this list and the part of it that truly bothers me. Beside the fact that it labels girls as mere sexual objects here for male enjoyment, it reveals a lot about about the privacy and respect our generation observes. With a myriad of social media outlets available for us at any moment of the day, we have the opportunity to put anything we want out into the world. I’ve noticed this often leads to a lot of teenagers asserting their voices and saying things that are not always quality. With the option to tell and show the world so much of our lives and our thoughts, as well as others’, it’s extremely important that we filter our posts with a level of respect and decency when posting about someone beside ourselves. An incriminating picture of a friend at a party could ruin his or her future; an embarrassing tweet invading the privacy of a friend could ruin a friendship; revealing sexual partners online could emotionally scar someone for a long, long time; and a list of girls who unwillingly became labeled for nothing other than their looks instills into society the idea that a woman’s appearance is the most valuable thing about her.

There’s also something to be said about chivalry here. I don’t mean knights in shining armor – I mean simply talking to the people we’re interested in. If you like a girl, have the respect for her to go up, use your words and speak to her. So much of dating is done through social media these days that people forget how to converse with someone in order to flirt; everything is said in “favorites,” “likes” and “lists.” We have the ability to converse and connect with people, to ask questions and to listen, to really get to know the people around us and to form relationships; we take this for granted and get all too comfortable replacing real communication with our digital screens. I’d like to also point out that, had a girl made this list, she would be slut shamed and ridiculed endlessly. I’m not asking that guys make a list of girls with really neat music taste, girls they enjoy talking to or girls with interesting perspectives on world issues, but I am saying that if you want to earn a girl’s respect and start something meaningful, I definitely wouldn’t do it by grouping her with 22 other girls and  telling people you think she’s hot. Likewise, girls need to stop sitting idly by and letting guys think this treatment is OK. We deserve more than that, and it’s fine for us to say that.

I would love to one day see women treated the same way as men and valued for the same things as men, but I know that’s a lot to ask one school to change. What I would like to see is some respect for people in general, some maturity online regarding relationships and sex, and some privacy for our peers. Keep in mind that the whole world can see the things we post, and just because we are comfortable with it, it doesn’t mean the other people involved in our posts are, too.