The Internet is Not Your Diary

The Internet is Not Your Diary

Anna Dabrowski, EMC Staff Writer

A digestible compilation of data supporting ideas of the longevity of the internet, social media and what factors it plays in college and or job recruitment, and the legal aspects of the internet relating to cyberbullying.

Throughout public schooling, students are often reminded multiple times about the everlasting risks of the internet. The response, a distracted head nod, an annoyed “yah we know.” Unfortunately the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak continues, and boredom ever stiffens. I see the worst parts of my peers being brought out on social media, and although we’ve been told our whole lives by adults what is acceptable online and what isn’t, I feel that we’ve failed to take these conversations seriously. I began to think about the benefits of having a compressed frame-up of the truth about social media and the digital age. In a time of high emotions, everyone needs a reminder that the internet is not your diary.


Internet Longevity:

“I know everything lasts on the internet” most if not all will say, but there is more to be recognized than this. Although everything is immortalized forever, research shows that the bad stays on top of the totem pole longer than the good. Analyses of large news events have been conducted tracking the traffic of tweets during the events. In a joint study conducted by the University of Washington and Northwest University, three false rumors surrounding the 2013 Boston Marathon were tracked, including their spread throughout the time the event was in the eye of the media. According to PBS,”the research team found that lies spread quickly—but corrections did not. For instance, a rumor that an eight-year-old runner was killed was retweeted more than 90,000 times over the five days following the blast, despite the fact that it could be easily debunked (marathon rules prohibit runners under 18)”(Couch). This research is closely associated with the spread of fake news. Tons of people will see the astounding, outraging, or catastrophic news that satisfies their psyche, but a small percentage will see the correction that carries the truth. A co-author of the study said that,”Even after a correction comes out, the false rumor persists, and at an orders-of-magnitude higher level”(Couch). In a complicated world where we rarely ever get full answers, having a common villain to exert emotions on provides comfort. An article published by the Washington Post details that reporters are often rewarded for not waiting for the whole truth. They claim,”the exceedingly rare writers who tell the lies themselves seem to disproportionately end up on bestseller lists, or in the running for prestigious prizes, precisely because they can deliver the cinematic narratives the rest of us long to, but cannot”(McArdle). So why does any of this matter. If the bad narrative is encouraged, even when it isn’t truthful, what happens when the rumors are true? Can a few blemishes outshine all you’ve worked and done good for?


Social Media and College Screening:

Most students understand that their social media accounts may be reviewed during the process of college recruitment, but how often is this actually a reality. A U.S.News article details various surveys taken in the past five years. Surprisingly a 2018  Kaplan survey found that,”about 25% of college admissions officers review applicants’ social media profiles”(“Why Colleges Look at Students’ Social Media”). Most students apply to at least four colleges during their application process, so I believe it is safe to say that it’s likely that a college, somewhere, will attempt to view your social media. Even having compromised social media for one college is risky enough, because that one college could be your dream school, and your life’s work. An American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers survey taken in 2017 also found that,”11% of respondents said they ‘denied admission based on social media content’ and another 7% rescinded offers for the same reason”(“Why Colleges Look at Students’ Social Media.”). So if 17% of these admissions officers seemingly cared enough to rescind officers or deny acceptance in the first place due to a situation on social media, what is stopping them from doing so to you?

I am well aware that statistics are boring and removed from what a teenager actually cares about, so let’s look into some current situations surrounding a very popular app for teens my age, TikTok. A popular trend has existed for a while where people dump a bunch of “ingredients” into a sink that are stereotypes of a certain type of person; band kid, theater nerd, etc. This trend seemingly pokes fun, until a high school student and her boyfriend made it racist against African Americans. She says that her boyfriend had told her it is going on his private account, but one person on that account saw it, reposted it with her information, and it went viral. They were both expelled from their high school, and her admittance to her choice college was rescinded (“Racist TikTok Video…”). Now I believe that she got what was coming to her, but it just shows that only one person needs to see something even on a “private” account for it not to be private anymore. Although I think blatant racism is of less prominence in our community, even slight exhibits of cyberbullying that are to “express your emotions,” or “rant to your friends” can easily be caught.


Job Recruitment:

Imagine this, you’re fresh out of college, on the job hunt. You are tens of thousands of dollars in debt and the payments start soon, but you’re not worried. You went to a good school and graduated with a 4.0. What could go wrong? Well I’ll tell you…an Instagram post of college partying, a Twitter rant with foul language, any digital footprint with evidence of  a compromised character. Sure you may have grown and changed as a person, but how would they know if they use this to judge your growth? A Business News Daily article details the chances of employers actually looking at your social media. The results of a 2018 Careerbuilder Survey found that,”70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and about 43% of employers use social media to check on current employees”(Driver). I need not say more. If I explained the significance of those stats I’d be belittling you, the reader. As to why these stats are so high DeeAnn Sims, founder of a public relations company Dark Horse PR says,”Because we tend to view our personal social media accounts as being ‘personal,’ there’s a good chance that by viewing someone’s profile, you’ll get a glimpse into their personality beyond the resume”(Driver). Your “sarcastic jokes” and “satirical social commentary” may not be what your employer is looking for, even if it doesn’t seem problematic at first glance. Employment long term is hard for youth to see or care about, so let’s direct our attention to the immediate future.


Cyberbullying Legalities: 

I think I’ve provided enough reasons to be careful about your digital footprint, but in case you don’t care about your future, here are the legalities. The legalities in NYS as stated by state that harassment charges can be inflicted even without a clear physical threat. It is stated that,” if the acts are meant to seriously annoy the victim, but do not place the victim in fear of actual harm, the bully may be charged with harassment in the second degree. (40 N.Y. Con. Laws Ann. § 240.26.)”(Steiner). I don’t feel the need to go farther than that because it is common knowledge that physical threats over the internet have catastrophic consequences, I just feel that the youth doesn’t understand that charges for plain harassment do in fact exist.


What Does This Have to do With Us?

A few weeks ago I put out a plea to our school community, it detailed the importance of kindness in this distinctive time. This is simply an extension of that message. I believe that kindness should be practiced for the sake of morality, but just in case you need a little bit more motivation you can always reference this article. The pixels moving across your screen do matter, and in some instances can implode upon your future. Times like these are for coming together, stay safe Eagle Nation.


Works Cited

Couch, Christina. “Lies Have Longevity on the Internet.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 29 Sept. 2014,

Driver, Saige. “Social Media Screenings Gain in Popularity.” Business News Daily,, 7 Oct. 2018,

McArdle, Megan. “Opinion | We Finally Know for Sure That Lies Spread Faster than the Truth. This Might Be Why.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 14 Mar. 2018,

“Racist TikTok Video Reportedly Gets High School Student’s College Offer Rescinded.” VT, 20 Apr. 2020,

Steiner, Monica. “Cyberbullying Laws in New York.”, Nolo, 22 Mar. 2017,

“Why Colleges Look at Students’ Social Media.” U.S. News & World Report, U.S. News & World Report,