Twitter fosters a destructive cyberbullying playground

Junior+Samantha+Calloni+was+surprised+to+find+a+picture+of+her+circulating+on+the+Twitter+feed+%40CaliStories

Julianna Reth

Junior Samantha Calloni was surprised to find a picture of her circulating on the Twitter feed @CaliStories

Julianna Reth, Opinion Editor

Students from various local schools, including Bear Creek, have found themselves victims to cyberbullying and Internet shaming through popular Twitter accounts such as @CaliStories, @ValleyStories1 and @ValleyStories2.

The primary mission of these Twitter accounts is to elicit laughter and ridicule through the submission of embarrassing pictures and stories from high schools based in California.

Some say that Twitter has fostered a destructive cyberbullying playground where tweeting about one’s life is socially accepted. However, where do people draw the line between what is deemed hilarious and what is outright offensive?

“My picture from Snapchat was put onto ValleySnaps, but I didn’t mind it because I was joking around and it was meant to be funny,” junior Megan Kirwan said, describing her making a funny face in the picture.

ValleySnaps2, which was formerly known as ValleySnaps, tweets harmless screenshots of individuals joking around through Snapchat, while ValleyStories1 and Cali Stories share similar tactics of including the abbreviated school name, a picture and/or a vulgar story targeting the victim(s). Another account, the Twitter Purge, illegally exposed nude photos of other people without consent.

Several students and stories from Bear Creek have appeared on these accounts, where students have found themselves ridiculed for the sake of others’ enjoyment. Bear Creek students recall witnessing junior Samantha Calloni as one of Cali Stories popular tweets on May 14.

“At first, I was really upset [about] being bullied because of my appearance, but I learned to take it as a joke,” Calloni said. “Trying to take it as a joke is hard to do when people are insulting and nitpicking you.”

Cali Stories uploaded a picture of Calloni displaying a clothing mishap as she walked in between class periods with her friend captioning the tweet “BCHS ‘typical girls.’” The picture had over 40+ retweets, 60+ favorites, and continuous replies consisting of laughing “emojis” or degrading commentary such as “you’re disgusting,” “I’d slap that,” or “#StopGothGirls2014.”

“I thought it was messed up and that it’s [Cali Stories] just a way for people to lower others’ self-esteem,” senior Jonathan Guillena said of the site. “It’s embarrassing and inhumane for both parties.”

Many students say they have conflicting feelings of both amusement and pity toward the exploitation of fellow Bear Creek students. The most common response among students who have viewed these posts is that the pictures and stories are hilarious until they realize who the victim is, leaving them to feel guilty for their insensitivity.

The question remains: what can students do when they fall victim to cyber bullying on these sites?

The Twitter accounts usually leave the submitter anonymous so it is difficult to get to the bottom of finding the source of the post.
“If that were me, I would report the account immediately,” senior Shaleen Chand said. “I would try to confront the person because they have no right to do that to me or anyone in general.”

However, Asst. Principal Dennis To cautions students not to confront the person; instead students should report any type of bullying to school officials immediately.

Calloni decided to fight back by posting her own tweet.

“I retweeted and replied saying ‘y’all just jealous because my ass looks great’ initially to let people know that I’m not going to let them break me down,” Calloni said.

After numerous complaints were submitted to ValleyStories1, the account was taken down; however, the second installment followed shortly and other accounts still remain in tact. Students say that the administration should pay more attention to cyber bullying and punish those who hide behind a computer screen.

Others lament the larger social implications of such sites.

“If you want to put yourself out there, that’s your choice,” BCHS school psychologist Jennifer Shirron said. “But to put someone else out there, I just think that’s sad and wrong. It’s a decline of society.”