Cyber world brings cyber happiness

Madeline Isham, Troy InVoice Managing Editor

In faint gray Helvetica Neue font the simple question “What’s happening?” precedes each of the 6,000 tweets sent every second.

At Auburn High School, students scroll through hundreds of answers to this question each time they log on to their Twitter timeline. Small 140 character blurbs chirp down the screen expressing disappointment at the existence of school, admiration for nameless hotties and emotionally distressed relationship complaints.

The 26% of teenagers with a Twitter account receive a constant stream of information encompassed by personal, humor, commercial, organization, and news accounts.  For personal accounts, users can interact with one another through public mentions and private direct messages.

This virtual social scene has developed into a new media culture, manifesting the positive, negatives and banality of teenage life.

Accounts like AHS, ARHS, and AMHS Confessions created opportunities for anonymous slamming towards other students. All of these accounts were eventually taken down.

When slamming and disputations are public between users, Twitter culture coins the term “tweef”.

“Tweef is basically like two dogs barking at each other through a fence,” said senior Benito Ozzervanza.

Tweef ranges from a small argument between friends to massive bashes between schools which can dominate a user’s timeline for hours at a time.

In both anonymous and public means of negativity, Twitter becomes a transport for cyber bullying.

“They feel better being protected by a screen,” commented senior Ozzervanza.

Twitter can become an outlet for emotional distress. Emotional or depressive Tweets are common for some user’s feeds.

“I try to only tweet positive… Because everyone can see it and you don’t want people seeing your negative thoughts,” said junior Tyler Pray.

Pray said he has little emotional connection to the Tweets he reads. Frequently these tweets are dismissed as an attempt to seek attention or mindless verbal diarrhea.

In select circumstances, however, Twitter serves as a blaring indication of a legitimate problem of the user’s emotional stability.

Before the Marysville shooting last month, shooter Jaylen Freberg filled his Twitter feed with comments like “I know it seems like I’m sweating it off… But I’m not.. And I never will be…” including several tweets containing verbal obscenities.

Determining which of these emotional expressions are a sincere cry for help and which are a casual plea for attention is the fine line on which all Twitter users must walk.

“I guess if I saw someone being depressed like that I’d be like… ‘what’s goin on,’” said Ozzervanza. In opposition to the negativity on Twitter, there are practical and entertainment functions as well.

School confession pages have been replaced with anonymous compliment accounts in some institutions. These allow students to anonymously submit friendly shout outs, secret crushes, or other affectionate comments, through direct messages.

There are public users who answer the “What is happening?” question impulsively and do not always declare earth shattering life updates or ground breaking information.

“People just share random stuff about their lives even if no one cares,” said senior Axel Barajas.

The information teen users take in is only half of the Twitter experience. The response users receive from their tweets is another aspect of the cyber phenomenon.

Tweets can be favorited, retweeted and quoted. Each of these actions notifies the user with a cheerful beep and a notification.

In terms of attention and popularity, Twitter is a social acceptance pop quiz for adolescents.

“That’s the whole point of Twitter, you tweet stuff so people will favorite it,” said senior Bailey Minnar.