RE­ALLY CAR­ING?

New Straits Times - - Opinion - The writer, a for­mer NSTP group man­ag­ing edi­tor, is now a so­cial me­dia ob­server

been put into them, and as such, they could be ac­cepted as they are.

Con­tent may be po­lit­i­cally-mo­ti­vated, hav­ing in­her­ent bi­ases or just plain mon­ger­ing. That is fine, we know that and we are wise to that, too. If we like them, or sub­scribe to their views, or sup­port a cer­tain agenda, no mat­ter how ma­li­cious the con­tent could be, we will take them in, warts and all.

There must be ba­sis for all those writ­ings or else why would any­one write them, right? Wrong. Our trust has been be­trayed by tech­nol­ogy and the evo­lu­tion of me­dia con­sump­tion. There are peo­ple who write to de­ceive.

I am a mem­ber of sev­eral chat groups, largely made up of peo­ple with more time than what they can think of us­ing it for. They have smart­phones with data plans, and on­ward they go as the world of so­cial me­dia beck­ons.

Peo­ple of a cer­tain age are not used to the con­cept of “click­bait” in which con­tent are de­signed to get us to click them, and hope­fully, share them, too. It is our na­ture af­ter all to be less sus­pi­cious when things come from our “friends” on so­cial me­dia, since they would not push to us de­fec­tive or false con­tent.

Why would any­one fab­ri­cate mir­a­cle med­i­cal reme­dies or sto­ries of deeds that warm the heart or re­li­gious wis­dom that prom­ises us sal­va­tion, all for the sake of In­ter­net traf­fic?

Well, peo­ple do, and in­ci­den­tally, the more we share, the more ef­fec­tive the fab­ri­ca­tions are.

Iron­i­cally, while we know images and videos could be fab­ri­cated or staged, we sel­dom ask our­selves if the pic­tures were doc­tored or videos, staged? Are we so­phis­ti­cated enough to no­tice cam­era an­gles or edit­ing, or spe­cial ef­fects that could turn any­thing into some­thing?

So­cial me­dia has be­come the world’s favoured plat­form for po­lit­i­cal dis­course. It de­liv­ers us con­tent in neat, con­ve­nient, con­sum­able pack­ages. We can choose to con­sume them or not, and if we care to share, then we could do so al­most in­stantly. Yet, it also of­fers a sad re­flec­tion of our so­ci­ety when the worse in us is am­pli­fied.

The word “vi­ral”, a decade or so ago, sug­gested some­thing ne­far­i­ous, which could at the very least, give you a cold. These days, it also de­scribes the phe­nom­ena of con­tent trav­el­ling and tak­ing a life of their own. In mar­ket­ing and in the spread­ing of ide­ol­ogy, con­tent that can go vi­ral is the ul­ti­mate ob­jec­tive. These days, all con­tent is de­signed with an eye on “vi­ral­ity”.

Of­ten, in our in­her­ent naivety we share con­tent with­out both­er­ing to check. Few of us would read posts all the way to the end. We read head­lines, like them or agree with them, and by the magic of mod­ern tele­phony, scores of peo­ple would be re­ceiv­ing them from us. And, if the re­ceivers were so in­clined, they would share with oth­ers, too, which is of­ten the case.

We want to be the “vi­raler” with the mostest — the more sen­sa­tional the bet­ter; we bet­ter do it first and fast.

Most of us who have sev­eral so­cial me­dia groups would have ex­pe­ri­enced be­ing bom­barded by the same mes­sages, one af­ter another, or at times, the very mes­sage we sent out comes back to us, mis­spelling and all.

How many of us are guilty of spread­ing lies or un­truths? I must con­fess I have been guilty of that, too, and like many peo­ple it was out of be­lief that the con­tent that I shared were aimed at in­form­ing. My in­ten­tion was no­ble, or so I’d say.

AFP PIC

So­cial me­dia is the world’s favoured plat­form for po­lit­i­cal

dis­course. It de­liv­ers us con­tent in neat, con­ve­nient, con­sum­able pack­ages.

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