The Internet, specifically social media, gives people an unlimited amount of freedom and a vast platform to share their opinions. While I do agree that sharing ideas is important, I also feel that sometimes, that freedom can mutate into a toxic pile of negativity, which breeds inhumane behavior. People take advantage of the anonymity, and use it for their own selfish, sometimes even cruel, intentions.
As we are given this liberty, it is important to remind ourselves that with it comes a lot of responsibility and reflection. As users of social media, it is imperative that we abide by following a set of guidelines.
1. Think Before You Click
Before sharing content on the Internet, always ask yourself this question: Will this do anybody any good? The basic premise here is to respect other people, and that includes their opinions, cultural background, and beliefs. In the same way that you will not agree with everything other people say, accept the reality that not everybody will agree with you. This is meant to be a forum to exchange ideas and broaden our perspectives, but it can only be done if we first create a culture of respect, and that all starts with a single click. Remember, it only takes one hateful comment to create a riot.
2. Verify Data
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion and has the freedom to express what they feel, it is equally important to stick with credible data. Recently, more and more fake news has been circulating the Internet. Photoshopped images, satire articles, and gossip news are just a few things you should watch out for. Not only does this create panic among people, but also it breeds a culture of bullying and divisiveness.
So, before you share news on social media, read the whole article and what its message it (not just the headlines!). More importantly, verify if the source is legitimate. There are so many kinds of information on the Internet, so it is our responsibility to discern whether it is real or not.
3. Know What to Share, and What to Keep Private
Not all information should be posted on the Internet. As valuable as it is to share your ideas, it is also important to ensure that you are safe. Social media is open to everyone, and that includes people who have bad intentions on their mind.
Take advantage of the privacy settings on your page. Be sure that when you share personal and potentially sensitive information about yourself, it is with people whom you trust. Also, avoid sharing personal information such as your mobile number, home address, or details about your family. Remember, your safety, and your family’s security should always be the main priority.
Recently, Facebook has been involved in a number of scandals related to data privacy. Before you agree to use a service like Facebook, you should read the Facebook Terms of Service to make sure you know what you’re actually agreeing to.
4. Be Open to Other People’s Points of View
As important as it is to respect other people’s opinions, we should also be open to what other people have to say. We have always said that social media is a chance to share ideas with one another, so why not let it teach you a thing or two? Be open to having your opinions questioned and your beliefs shattered. Accept the reality that sometimes, the way you see things may not be the whole picture. You never know, maybe somebody else’s experience can teach you something profound and meaningful. That all starts with keeping an open mind.
Social media is an innovative tool that I hope we all learn to maximize. This is an ideal venue to learn more about the world by communicating with different kinds of people. However, to ensure this productivity, we need to preserve a positive exchange of ideas. We cannot allow it to breed negative tendencies such as bullying, racism, and sexism.
To prevent this from happening, we need to constantly remind ourselves to be responsible and respectful social media users. As they say, we need first to be the change we want to see in others.