{Staff Editorial}

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Featherduster Staff

A few weeks ago, you were scrolling through Yik Yak, laughing. You upvote a funny post about that kid in your history class. But then you stop. There’s a post about you. And it’s not funny anymore. Yik Yak, the social media app where you can anonymously say whatever you want to anyone within a five-mile radius was eventually shut down at school at the end of September because the cyberbullying became so vicious. The disrespect continued in the realwestlakeyearbook scandal, in which a student took screenshots of “finstas,” or fake Instagrams, where people upload photos of themselves drunk or high, and posted them. We’ve all heard the lecture where a teacher or speaker at an assembly wags their finger at us and tells us that cyberbullying is bad. That’s true, but the issue here is more one of respect than anything else. There are real consequences for these actions that seem like jokes.

Yik Yak blew up in September and mostly consisted of making fun of people’s physical features or calling girls sluts, on a good day. The anonymity of the app took away the worries of getting in trouble, so Yik Yak became a hub of cyberbullying without any ramifications. The frantic need to post led to a mob mentality where the posts about others became more and more malicious until the app was made nearly impossible to use at school by the administration. In the realwestlakeyearbook situation, the stolen images were tagged with “#westlakeyearbook” and “#ctodd.” Even though what those girls were doing was illegal, to post their pictures without their consent is disrespectful. And to act as if the yearbook and their adviser, Cindy Todd, had anything to do with underage drinking and drug use hurts the journalism department and the school by making all of us look foolish. Even if you don’t care about how the school looks, you should at least care about the damage your words cause.

And it’s not just words that are part of this disrespect, it’s our actions as well. The prevalent cheating at our school has added to the level of disrespect for peers as well as teachers. The situation is ridiculous, because the people who are cheating to raise their grade point average for college are hurting themselves. They’re skewing the system that they are trying to cheat by raising the average grade that people get on assignments. Snagging a high ranking becomes even harder, because everyone else’s GPAs are even more padded and ridiculously high than theirs are with AP multipliers. These cheaters aren’t only hurting themselves, but they are also hurting their peers, teachers and future students. If a non-cheater is trying to get good grades, their hard-earned 92 seems like a poor attempt compared to a cheater’s 100. Not only that, but cheating is also unfair to teachers, who are the ones who need to know how well their students understand the information. When the majority of a class gets an A on a test, a teacher may think that he has done a really good job getting the material across, and will continue to use that method for later years. And then those future students will have difficulty learning the material and some of them will likely cheat out of frustration. This vicious cycle of cheating all started because someone didn’t want to take the time to study, which, in some situations, would have taken less time than the cheating itself.

These things affect your friends and teachers.  There are people in our school who already have low self-esteem and the “harmless” Yik Yak post about the fat girl who is within five miles of you made her feel unworthy in our ignorant society. Looking over at your neighbor’s paper seems like an easy way to get an A, until you study hard and someone cheats off of you. These things feel fine until someone disrespects you publicly. Soon, there’ll be a new app or website that will be used in a similar way. It’s up to us to respect ourselves, and others, enough to not participate. We can’t blame the platform for our actions. When we look back at high school memories, we’re going to feel horrible when realizing that we cyberbullied someone or when our grades are slipping because we didn’t retain any information from high school. If disrespect to others isn’t enough to convince you, think about yourself before you cheat or make that post.