It is undeniable that the 21st century cannot be be compared to any other time in history. American rappers Drake and Future described the experience perfectly. What a time to be alive. The number of social media platforms available have exploded, with the likes of twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook etc making sure people are not only able to express themselves via these platforms but also made it possible to invite people to observe their lifestyles but and communicate with people everywhere and anywhere. It is significantly important to note that social media aided in the fall of many dictatorial states with crowd mobilization taking place on through platforms. the Arab spring is just but an example. Although people have also found love on social media,it has however also resulted in the creation of what are now known as internet trolls. People who dedicate their spare time to degrading their fellow human beings in what can only be described as cyber bullying. Social media has become in a sense an outlet for the right to freedom of expression. Many have expressed their misogynistic, racist, homophobic thoughts via their posts just to name a few and the “public” outcry has resulted in many losing their jobs. So the question becomes how does one conduct themselves on social media in a manner that avoids the repercussions that accompany this behaviour??
Firstly, It is my belief that people should stop with the ignorance. If people are uneducated regarding certain topics it is advisable to avoid posting or even commenting on social media. This does nothing but escalate tensions on social. This is clearly evident on Facebook on our very own Stellies rage. Very few people seem willing to engage in a conversation and attempt to get themselves educated regarding social media. This is also observable in the comments people make on social media which are at times deemed homophobic or even racist.Because people are uneducated on certain you see people condoning things such as apartheid and belittling the experiences of other people. If for example you are aware of an era such as apartheid but are unaware of the human rights violations at the time, you are likely to be ignorant of the experience of people of colour. Ultimately, getting yourself educated before posting anything on social media should be a necessity.
Secondly, if people are undergoing any sort of stress and frustration, it is best to avoid social media until they have calmed down and are able to express their views in a manner that is not offensive. Many in their frustrations have also posted things on social media that have lost them their jobs because they expressed their views in a manner that was hurtful and destructive. The bible even says out the the intents of the heart the mouth speaks. Good and bad. In their rage many have posted destructive statements, be it racist or harassing and threatening in nature.
Lastly, human decency and some sort of empathy towards your neighbour would go a long way in not causing harm on social media. And this is directed to internet trolls. Whether people do it intentionally or out of ignorance. If a person struggling with their weight posts a photo of themselves, rather than posting something negative, just do not post anything. The repercussions that come with your negative comments will not only damage that persons feeling of self worth and self esteem but it can lead them down a tragic path. And if you feel the need to post or comment in such a scenario, a thumbs up will suffice.
This is an answer to “What does it mean to be a responsible digital citizen?”
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