Derogatory, racist language online bleeds into real life

Daniel Horowitz, Staff Writer

This is an opinion article and does not necessarily reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo.

Social media has become a significant method for people to represent themselves to the outside world. Users spend a great deal of time crafting their profiles in order to present themselves in the best way possible. Even though it is so easy to create a profile that will make you look perfect to the world, it is just as easy to ruin all of that. The wild part is that many do not realize it a lot of the time. For many reasons, it is incredibly important to take care of the language used on social media. This is a huge problem for the city of New Orleans.

Words are powerful. One should always be careful what is said to others, especially on social media platforms. Using profanity and derogatory language in real life sheds a not-so-flattering light on the perpetrator, as well as potentially hurting others, and doing so on social media is no different. It can damage relationships and set terrible examples for others.

According to The Times-Picayune, Louisiana ranked the highest in the amount of derogatory tweets sent out by Twitter users. Furthermore, New Orleans is one of the worst cities in the country for racist, derogatory language. While many of these tweets use this language in an arguably positive context, many others are intended to hurt or provoke others.

Using derogatory language in social media posts affects how others interact with us. Some Facebook users end up beginning, or entering into, intense arguments — political or otherwise — because certain language angers and provokes them into getting involved. If these other people who show up on our news feeds are supposed to be our “friends,” then we should not be throwing these relationships away because of petty arguments and immature rhetoric.

This kind of language also hurts us when people who are not “friends” with us glance at our profiles. When employers search for job applicants over social media, they likely do not want to see someone with a consistent sailor’s mouth. It lacks appeal. If social media profiles are meant to give others an idea of who we are, then seeing derogatory language and profanity show that a person will use that language regularly, even in a professional setting.

One of the greatest disadvantages to using this kind of language on social media is that it sets an example for others. When derogatory language is used on social media, it further normalizes it in our world and it makes it seem okay to use regularly. We should not make it seem like derogatory language is a social norm. That sets a terrible example for others, especially those younger than us.

On Tulane’s campus, there have been many incidents of harmful language online. One of the worst issues is rampant racist and violent language used on the app Yik Yak. To combat this, community members must do what we can to dismiss this language and encourage other ways of communication. Derogatory language is not essential to conversation and social media reflects real life. If this harmful language is used online, it will be used in real life. One should do all they can to discourage this way of speech.