By Sanjit Menon
Artwork by Saffah Azeem
There are common threads of social media intervention and spread of inaccurate information in today's society.
Recently, New Hyde Park Memorial High School received a shooting threat. While the situation had been addressed by Dr. Faccio, numerous students missed classes for the day in fear of the what-ifs and the potential of such an event occurring in school. With the current political atmosphere and heavy influence of social media in daily life, threats and acts of violence are not entirely unheard of, but also many of the times have been blown out of proportion.
Before the presence of the issue on social media, the school had received a recording made by students, talking about their plan. After receiving this audio file, the school investigated the issue, bringing local authorities in to determine what next steps had to be taken. In turn, the student received disciplinary consequences, neutralizing the issue. After a month or so, peers uncovered and shared these disturbing recordings on social media, stimulating a panic amidst the student body and parents.
“Social media escalated the situation at hand, causing many students to stay home in fear, despite the fact that the situation was already handled...”
“After I listened to that recording my friend sent me, I was speechless. I remember sitting and refreshing the school website page, hoping some announcement was made regarding the recording,” said senior Jeremy Joy.
Others were skeptical of the situation, disregarding the recording as a harmless prank.
“After I heard that recording on my friend’s Instagram story, I did not know whether it was real or not. I thought it was a recording someone got off the Internet to scare everyone,” said senior Jarek Joe Joseph.
“Even though the school did not notify us of any school closing, my parents and I decided it was best to stay at home and wait it out. I didn't want to risk my life, knowing that I could have avoided it,” said junior Ivan Chu.
Many families shared the same concern. They felt uncomfortable with their children attending school after listening to the recording. On the day after the recordings were disclosed, a large fraction of the student body was absent from classes.
“My anatomy and physiology class is relatively big, and there are more than 25 students. However, as few as 10 students attended the class the day after the recordings were leaked. It felt uncomfortable, since the class was practically empty and the teacher was not able to start a new lesson,” said senior Arwa Rahim.
Some believe that social media sites are reliable methods of media consumption, in comparison to the school administration, due to its uncensored forum for collecting and viewing information.
“I feel that it would have been better if the school administration was more transparent with parents, teachers, and students...”
“With the help of social media, my friends and I were able to be aware of a possible school shooter. Therefore, we were able to determine definite actions to stay safe in school,” said Joseph.
Some may also argue that social media is not a reliable method of learning new information.
“Social media escalated the situation at hand, causing many students to stay home in fear, despite the fact that the situation was already handled. In response, the school attempted to ensure the safety of NHP students and staff through increased police presence on school grounds,” said senior Jeremiah Varghese.
After these recordings were spread on social media and many students were absent, the school addressed the issue with the student body, explaining how the information was outdated and already investigated. However, some are upset about the school not informing families beforehand.
“My main concern is why the school kept this whole situation quiet for so long. I feel that it would have been better if the school administration was more transparent with parents, teachers, and students,” said sophomore Varun Pillai.
“With the surplus amounts of assignments and tests I receive, the information that there might be a possible school shooting burdened my stress,” said Chu.
This incident illustrated just how much influence social media has on the public.