All your tweets, Instagrams and Yik Yaks are ruining spring break in peak destinations like Florida, Alabama and even New England.
A small town called Keene in New Hampshire used to have an annual Pumpkin Festival where locals would gather and party politely—that is, until college students took their event to an entirely different level. According to the New York Times, last fall college kids from near and far descended upon Keene, got sloshed, ripped up the street signs and threw bottles at riot gear-clad cops. Recently Keene’s City Council has voted to end their 25-year tradition of the Pumpkin Festival because 2014’s installment was so out of control.
The blame, some say, falls on social media, which allows partiers can assemble faster than ever before: one invite goes to 200 people and those people send the information to their friends and so on, and then people document their wildness on camera for anyone to see. Of course, wildness itself is not all the internet’s fault.
... Large crowds and violence tainted spring break in Panama City Beach long before social media’s rise; in 2005, Robert J. Bailey, of Wisconsin, shot and killed a local police officer after he and two friends drove from Chicago to Florida looking for women during spring break. He was convicted and is now on death row.
Some say the Pumpkin Festival’s reputation is still spread the old-fashioned way.
“Every year, a bunch of kids from all of New England come and they get wicked drunk, and then they go home and tell their friends,” said Wayland Tolman, 19, who lives in nearby Nelson, N.H., and attends the Pumpkin Festival’s satellite party every year.
One Harvard professor agreed, saying that social media just allows the media to pick up on activities that were always happening—just now the activities are on a platform that is traceable.
“We don’t see, statistically, an uptick in riskier behaviors,” Dr. Junco said.
Police in certain cities like Gulf Shores, Ala. are taking to Facebook to warn Lil Jon or Selena Gomez hopefuls that “Gulf Shores may not be for you.” It seems, anyway, like all this social media action is primarily reactionary. In Panama City Beach, spring break played host to a terrible situation for one woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted by two men in front of hundreds of people, while no one on a crowded beach stepped in to help her. It may already be too late to save spring break.
Image via Shutterstock.
Contact the author at Hillary@jezebel.com.