Photo Courtesy Of Lucas Jackson

As Nina Davuluri walked the ramp to claim her crown titling her as the 2014 Miss America, some social media users began to express their concern of her win.  Nina Davuluri, who was Miss New York, is the first Indian-American to win the Miss America Pageant. Yet, her win was met with dismay from certain racist individuals.

Social media has yet again been placed in the negative limelight. One individual tweeted “And the Arab wins Miss America. Classic.” While another tweeted “How the fuck does a foreigner win miss America? She is a Arab #idiots.”  Others tweeted that “9/11 was 4 days ago and she gets miss America?” and “Miss America right now or miss Al Qaeda?” These tweets went viral.

The prevalence of racist comments on twitter brought light to a question we have discussed in class: what is the nature of social networking sites? While SNSs are a powerful way to interact with friends and family, they have a negative side that can be particularly harmful. But can we really prevent these sort of messages from occurring? The lesson we can learn from instances like this is to utilize social media in a mature fashion.

This incident also brings light to cyber bullying, a topic mandated by law to be discussed in all public schools in the United States. The rise of social media networking sites has also increased cyber bullying. This sort of bullying has increased because individuals can attack peers virtually – without face-to-face contact.  In a way, the Nina Davuluri Twitter incident is yet another case of cyber bullying to the Indian-American population.  But what can Twitter do to stop this? In a country that prides itself in the freedom of expression, it is challenging for SNSs to constantly filter hate messages and racists comments. SNSs are unique in that every one is a journalist – anyone has the power to publish anything.

Many social media critics related this incident to the Tyler Clementi suicide. Clementi was a gay student at Rutgers who jumped to death off the George Washington Bridge because his roommate recorded a video of him kissing another man and then utilized Twitter to publicize the event. The Tyler Clementi case however marked a turning point in American history. The roommate, Dharun Ravi, was charged on all 15 counts for his role in the spying social media incident. After this incident, many organizations also began to highlight how youth should utilize social media networking sites in a harmless fashion. Still, however, cases like the Nina Davuluri incident stress how our society is, in a way, still backward. It is interesting to note how the nature of bullying has changed from “offline” to “online.” Thus, through the Social Media Networking course, I hope to also gain a better understanding of the role of social media networking and its effect on cyber bullying and, specifically, teenage youth.


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