JornalPhil's Cuppa

PHIL’S CUPPA – Social Media Sins

I have been following a lot of the news on social media, and with the news I also follow the comments, and I can’t help but notice that the most vociferous commenters are almost always people that really do not understand what the topic is at all. Half the time the comments are merely a propagation of personal ideologies without much more than a tenuous connection to the situation, and in some extreme cases it has since been discovered that many posts are not even true anyway. Social media has become a dangerous and untrustworthy place! In South Africa, the general rule of writing is that if it is in print, it counts as legally said. It sounds weird until you realize that it also means that if you say it on WhatsApp, TikTok or other social media platform, you can be held liable for it, and even sued or jailed! Commenting might be tempting, but we need to learn how to choose our words carefully! Legalities aside, the image I get in many cases is that social media is like two guys arguing, while in a crowd of drunk people, all commenting their opinions, and, instead of solving the argument, causing the firgt to become worse and worse until it explodes and people get hurt. Not to be funny, but the two wars that are going on right now are perfect examples of this – both in the Ukraine and in Israel the arguments are so out of hand that it is making the matter worse, and in many cases the people commenting are not there, have a limited understanding of the deep seated motivations of the parties involved or what is happening on the ground, and it is making things very emotional and angry – never a good thing in a war! We see the same in our own community though, with comments made about others in terms of race, crime and more, and the comments are, as was pointed out by a colleague this morning, NOT PRIVATE. Yes, these platforms are monitored, and the comments may well come back and bite you! Have you not seen how in FaceBook, for example, you can get a ban for a comment you don’t even remember making? We have a situation where social media has taken us to amazing places when we can hear news and more about everything under the sun, and we have gladly gone where it has led us, but we seem to have forgotten that there are things we need to remember;

  1. Just as there are legalities about things like hate speech in real life, it also exists on social media.
  2. Not everything you read is true – there are as many idiots on social media as there are in real life.
  3. On the internet, NOTHING is ever really gone, and it can be found again, usually when it damages you the most.

To conclude, while social media is hugely fun and can be used to do a great deal of good, it can also cause a lot of harm. You may want to censor yourself before you suddenly find yourself in the midst of a lot of trouble.

Philip Allebone

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