Pictured (L-R): CHS Student, Luke Woosley; KHS Student, Joshua Tigges; Rev. Cindy Johnson; DMACC Business Instructor, Jen Shulte; Attorney, Peter Leo; and Coon Rapids Enterprise Editor, Charlie Nixon
Interacting with social media platforms has become an everyday occurrence for most Americans, but many questions still remain on the way it affects how people interact with each other. According to the Pew Internet Research Center, incidents of incivility and cyberbullying are likely to increase over the next 10 years. To explore the issue further, the Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Carroll campus hosted a public discussion Wednesday, led by a panel of community members and social media users. Library Media Specialist, Lisa Dreesman, moderated the conversation and started with a formal definition of social media from an article published in Telecommunications Policy.
She then posed the question: Does social media help or hurt civility? One of the panelists, Peter Leo, a local attorney, says he sees almost every day how differently people behave on social media compared to in person.
Leo adds the comments sections of many websites are often appalling, and he wonders how people can say such terrible things to another person. Luke Woosley, a student at Carroll High School, says cyberbullying is far more common than face-to-face bullying in his experience.
Woosley noted social media also has a lot of positives. Kuemper student, Joshua Tigges, agreed, saying he has seen a lot of people use it to benefit others.
Regardless of the pros and cons of social media, the panel was in agreement that improving civility online starts at the individual level. Most importantly, they encouraged everyone to remember that there is another human being on the other side of the screen.