Mind your man­ners on­line

Eti­quette is para­mount for an en­joy­able and trou­ble-free so­cial me­dia ex­pe­ri­ence

New Straits Times - - Opinion -

SO­CIAL me­dia rules to­day. For those who are still not on board, it is still a good time to hop on the band­wagon of so­cial me­dia up­dates. So­cial me­dia refers to tech­nol­ogy that fa­cil­i­tates the cre­ation, ex­pres­sion and shar­ing of information via vir­tual com­mu­ni­ties and net­works. Whether you’re us­ing your com­puter, smart­phone or tablet, so­cial me­dia plat­forms are just a few clicks away. There are many out there to choose from, but there are few glob­ally pop­u­lar ones like Face­book, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram, Google+, YouTube, Snapchat and more.

Like ev­ery tech­nol­ogy ever cre­ated, it is meant for good. Un­for­tu­nately, it doesn’t take long for some­one to abuse or use it with harm­ful in­ten­tions and con­se­quences.

So­cial me­dia’s big­gest val­ues are com­mu­ni­ca­tion and con­nec­tiv­ity. We are no longer out of reach with any­one all over the world. Thanks to this in­no­va­tion, we are al­ways con­nected daily, and in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with any­one at any­time and any­where in the world.

Last year’s statis­tics re­ported there were 14 mil­lion Face­book users in Malaysia. Statis­tics also re­ported that Malaysians spent an av­er­age of 2.8 hours a day on so­cial net­works and 7.2 hours a week stream­ing on­line videos.

It was cer­tainly all warm and rosy for a while when so­cial me­dia plat­forms took off. How­ever, these have taken a life of their own and at times, di­verted to­wards some dark side of to­day’s so­ci­ety. While some may have started out to be a joke, it cer­tainly didn’t seem that way af­ter it was posted on­line. Then, there are those with the in­ten­tion of be­lit­tling oth­ers, play­ing pranks, abu­sive be­hav­iours, bul­ly­ing, overzeal­ous… you get the gist! What­ever you may think it is, it’s not fun, funny nor ac­cept­able in per­sonal or busi­nesses when so­cial me­dia is mis­used and abused.

There are those small petty so­cial me­dia blun­ders which hurt in­di­vid­u­als that con­tinue to roam out there to­day. While those may seem small and petty, it can still hurt some­one re­ally bad. Some­times, we read that it may even lead to death, in this case when the per­son hurt has men­tal is­sues. So, yes, how­ever small it may seem to you, it may not be for oth­ers.

Then, there are those so­cial me­dia blun­ders by cor­po­ra­tions or even po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns and un­for­tu­nate dis­as­ters. From our own land, we re­mem­bered sar­cas­tic re­marks from those man­ag­ing busi­ness so­cial me­dia ac­counts that ig­nited fire­works from a com­ment or feed­back from con­sumers.

A few years back, a new mall had el­e­va­tor is­sues and, while the con­sumers’ feed­back to the mall on their Face­book page was with good in­ten­tions, the of­fi­cer replied with sar­casm, which started a trolling wild­fire on so­cial me­dia.

There was also the time when Malaysia faced the MH370 cri­sis, and some ir­re­spon­si­ble peo­ple ac­tu­ally spread ru­mours and con­spir­acy the­o­ries, caus­ing be­he­moth up­roar and up­set­ting fam­i­lies of the vic­tims and many on so­cial me­dia plat­forms.

Sto­ries fab­ri­cated about the plane land­ing safely in some lo­ca­tion caused fur­ther dis­tress to many, and grief to the fam­i­lies of the vic­tims. Then, there was also the false information spread via What­sApp about bod­ies float­ing around dur­ing the floods in Ke­lan­tan, which caused much an­guish.

If you’re go­ing to shout out to the world, at least do it right. You owe it to your­self to be so­cially re­spon­si­ble and have the right so­cial me­dia man­ners. While it’s good to share information, make sure it’s a fact be­fore you share it. Even be­fore you share it, make sure you check with the orig­i­na­tor be­fore you share it, es­pe­cially when it’s not your news to broad­cast.

Be­fore you post or share any­thing on so­cial me­dia plat­forms, it would cer­tainly be wise to ask your­self whether you’d phys­i­cally say what you wrote to some­one. If you wouldn’t say it to some­one in pub­lic, it’s likely not ap­pro­pri­ate in the so­cial me­dia world as well. Do also think twice be­fore sup­port­ing or post­ing ex­tremely opin­ion­ated view­points on sen­si­tive sub­jects as it can be a light­ning rod on­line.

While we all need an out­let to ex­press our frus­tra­tions and neg­a­tiv­ity, just re­mind your­self that if it’s listed on so­cial me­dia plat­forms, it may ac­tu­ally come back to you later on since there is black-and-white proof on­line.

There are plenty of ways to let out steam and neg­a­tiv­ity be­sides so­cial me­dia. Try to turn your neg­a­tiv­ity in a bet­ter way than just rant­ing. If you up­date your so­cial me­dia plat­forms with pos­i­tive vibes, you may in turn get good feed­back or advice that could boost your morale.

Al­ways re­mem­ber, so­cial me­dia plat­forms are not fully “safe”. While shar­ing is car­ing, your per­sonal information should never be shared on these plat­forms to avoid iden­tity theft.

It’s never al­ways about you, too. Peo­ple may use you and your information to get to oth­ers in your fam­ily and friends’ cir­cle. So, share with re­spon­si­bil­ity in mind. Let’s en­joy the found­ing ben­e­fits of so­cial me­dia in a pos­i­tive way, not be­cause you must, but be­cause it’s the right thing to do.

The writer is edi­tor of BOTs, the weekly tech sec­tion in Life&Times. Trained in Maths, he has since traded his prob­lem-solv­ing skills with writ­ing about how tech has helped to trans­form the world for the bet­ter

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