Everyone thought it was harmless.

You are hanging out with a group of your friends on a Friday night. Sitting on the couch eating popcorn, faces lit up from the screen of your phones. Everyone starts to gossip about the other girls in your grade; some harsh things are being said and you want to defend those innocent people but you think that it is harmless so you let it happen. Scrolling through Facebook, one of your friends, Stacy, noticed a photo posted by a girl named Emily who she has been harassing at school for a while. Stacy started commenting on the photo with obscenities. Everyone thought that it was hilarious and joined in. You at first hesitated because you knew that it wasn’t right, but you end up giving in because you want to fit in with the rest of your friends. You all spend the rest of the night joking about how funny the comments were, carrying on with your life not thinking anything of your actions though you knew deep down it was wrong.

Sitting on her bed on Friday night, Emily posts a selfie from the day before when she treated herself to some Starbucks. Emily was feeling confident about her post and was hoping it would get a lot of likes and be a self-esteem boost because of her awful week at school. Though every week has been awful, this week was especially hard. The girls in her grade had been calling her names, making fun of her, and posting rude comments about her on their accounts all week. Life is starting to feel torturous.

Emily starts getting notifications from Facebook; people are starting to comment on her post! She unlocks her phone hoping to see nice comments from her best friends but instead, she is looking at dozens of comments all saying that she is a worthless, ugly, waste of space. She starts to believe that this is true. “Why would so many people be thinking this about me if it wasn’t true,” she thought to herself. Tears drain from Emily’s face, drenching her phone screen.

She wants to distract herself from the pain this was causing her, so she got in her car to go on a drive. She blasts her music and cries, her eyes barely open enough to see the road. The sun has almost completely set as she looks to her right while driving over a bridge. Pulling her car over she gets out, drops her keys on the pavement and sits on the railing of the bridge. She looks at the point in the horizon where the sunset begins to touch cold dark river below and thinks over her whole life. She has endured bullying for 10 years, and it keeps getting worse. Emily closes her eyes, lets one last tear fall down her face, lets go of the railing, and falls.

Social media has consumed the lives of teenagers and cyberbullying is an unfortunate byproduct. Though being a platform to share and keep up with friends and family, the popular networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have become flooded with cyber harassment. About 4,400 deaths of young people per year are attributed to cyberbullying. Twenty-five percent of teenagers have said that they have been bullied on their cell phones or the internet. As the presence of social media increases, the problem of cyberbullying has only gotten worse. The mindless comments and posts can turn into something much bigger than previously intended. We must take responsibility for what we post and how a few taps of a screen could affect someone’s life in an immensely harmful way.

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