We are a small school and one of the downsides to that is people know other people’s business. Until this school year began, spreading people’s business consisted solely of word-of-mouth gossip. Unfortunately, this fall an anonymous wordsmith decided to create a Twitter account called Goshen Weekends.
The anonymous Goshen Weekends’ Twitter account serves no purpose other than to report on “Goshen College’s elite in their finest moments. What we’ve seen, what I’ve seen, and what they wish we all hadn’t. Recapping the weekend, peace by peace,” or in other words, to exploit, humiliate and spread gossip via social media.
Goshen Weekends’ Twitter account singles people out and exploits their personal and intimate business for the sake of entertainment. This is more commonly known as cyber bullying and/or harassment.
This issue of Goshen Weekends is not just a moral or community issue, it’s a legal one as well. There are strict laws about cyber harassment in Indiana and this cyber gossiper could end up facing serious legal consequences. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, cyber harassment is identified as “a person who, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person but with no intent of legitimate communication, uses a computer network or another form of electronic communication to communicate with a person or transmits an obscene message.”
The National Conference of State Legislators considers a message obscene if it refers to sexual conduct in a “patently offensive way and the message, taken as a whole, lacks serious artistic, literary, political or scientific value.” If Goshen Weekends’ Twitter harassments fit into these classifications the person(s) behind this anonymous Twitter account could be facing a class B misdemeanor.
Many people in the Goshen College social scene see Goshen Weekends’ Twitter as light-hearted fun, but there are laws against cyber harassment for a reason. The intimate and personal content that has been or will be posted on the Internet can affect people’s emotional well-being and their reputations.
Like many other college campuses, there is a population of students at Goshen who enjoy the occasional weekend mingling. But something unique to Goshen College’s social scene is that it has always aspired to be a community that takes care of each other and is respectful of one another’s decisions, whether they are wise or poor. If someone makes a mistake, people take care of each other and surround each other to make “good and better decisions,” as Goshen College’s own Kansas Bible Company used to say.
We are a collective group of strong-minded, intelligent young people that deserve to take ourselves seriously and to take others seriously.
I ask that we stand together and not give in to harmful gossip, but to care for one another. Goshen’s social scene should be a safe place, and we should be watching out for one another. We are meant to be a community that takes care of each other, respects one another and moves forward to “heal the world peace by peace.”
We can’t hope to heal the world if we can’t even begin to heal each other.
Devon Barnes Spitler is a senior art and PJCS major.