In today’s world, taglines like #BeKind and #BeHumble, are plastered on virtually every social media platform available.

With the touch of a button, adults and students alike post these and many other similar “words of wisdom;” however, many of their supposed mantras are much easier typed than acted upon. Though many of these ideals are valuable and worth promoting, they are also often used as an online façade to conceal people and personalities that are far from kind and humble. What really matters is not what we post on social media, not what we tell others to do, but what we actually do.

Social media gives its users an opportunity to reach a global audience, meaning that if it is used correctly, it can be a great leadership tool. Unfortunately, the differences between who supposed leaders are in the real world and who they say they are on their smartphones bring a whole new meaning to the word “phony.” In high school, many students have two completely different sides: one on social media and one in real life. This becomes obvious when students constantly receiving praise online for their outstanding character choose to disrespect or even bully other students. Social media allows phony people young and old to convince the outside world that they are upstanding citizens concerned with others’ wellbeing when, in reality, they care only about themselves.

The hypocrisy of posting one philosophy and living another is not limited to social media. Senioritis, the “too cool for school” attitude where someone thinks they are better than everyone else because of age, extends far beyond the bounds of age and grade. Too many times, someone walks by a fellow student in the hallway without so much as a passing glance all because they believe that they are superior, whether it is because of the sport they play, the clothes they wear, or the other friends they have. As teenagers, it is easy to become arrogant and get caught up in what we have—accomplishments, trophies, talents, and praise for those talents—but what really matters is who we are and how we treat others.

For the senior class at York High, it is time to act on the words that so many are using as a cheap catchphrase, to be kind and humble on and offline, and most of all, to be leaders. Society expects leadership on the field, on the court, and in activities, but York also needs leaders in the classroom, the lunchroom, and the hallway. It is easy to talk to one’s own friend group, but what about people who are looking for friends, like new students, students from other countries, or the new freshmen? Good leaders acknowledge others’ existence; I am not saying that everyone needs to say hi to everyone in the hallway, but what I am saying is that a few kind words can mean more than anyone may ever know. As an introvert, I understand that spontaneously striking up a conversation can be difficult and sometimes awkward, but as someone who has made many friends through awkward first conversations, I can definitely say that it is worth it. York also needs positive leaders in the student section, rather than bullies who arrive late and then make other students move so they can have the front row.

The issue of social media, phoniness, and two-sided natures is much larger than York High School, York, or even Nebraska, but there is no better place to start fixing it than here and now. This year, we have a new senior class and with it a new opportunity to create a more positive environment; it’s time to step it up at York High. I encourage the community to take a stand as well and promote positive change. Actions speak louder and truer than posts, and so I challenge everyone, regardless of their age, to be kind, be humble, and most importantly, BE REAL.

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