It’s the virtual space where we all get to express ourselves, air our views, display a little vanity (for those who are so inclined), exciting family life or lack thereof and keep in touch with family and friends. There have been arguments for and against social media and its use, and the general consensus seems to be that while the virtual community has reunited friends and family and built friendships, it has also done as much harm (if not more) to existing relationships.
I think social media is brilliant. The fact that one can sit in the comfort of their room in some remote part of the world and stay in touch with another person thousands of miles away at little or no cost, just like they were physically present is genius! Lifelong friendships have been formed, marriages contracted and business relationships sealed out of a simple “Hello” – that’s the immense power social media wields.
Nevertheless, like every other thing that’s subject to abuse when not managed properly or used with discretion, the liberties derived from social media have been abused time and again. Oftentimes, this stems from ignorance, insensitivity, or outright disregard for other users.
In 2018, I am hoping that social media users who are guilty of the following will do better;
Tagging indiscriminately: Now, we are already friends on Facebook, which invariably means you are likely to see every post I share, just like I would see yours. Yet for some reason, you feel the need to tag me in almost every post. I have never really understood the rationale behind this even though I imagine that the tagger is trying to eliminate the five percent chance that I’ll miss their post. Except we took a picture together or you are absolutely certain your post is something I would be interested in, it makes no sense to tag me. We are friends, remember? If you are in the habit of doing this, please stop it. Tagging friends indiscriminately only portrays you as a nuisance or an incurable attention seeker.
Invading the Inbox when you have nothing to say: The private message feature is for people who want to chat privately or have something specific to discuss with a person; away from the public forum where everyone can read the message. The problem with the way people use this option is that some actually have nothing to say and just appear to be on a mission to waste the other person’s time. It’s not bad to say a simple “Hello” privately, as long as you are quick to indicate that that’s exactly all you wanted to say. Don’t be a random inbox invader. Be prepared to have meaningful conversations when you initiate a chat. Kick the habit of expecting the other party to carry on the conversation when you who initiate a chat.
Posting gory/obscene pictures and images: It’s almost 2018. If you didn’t know it before, please note that it’s utterly insensitive and in bad taste to share gory or obscene images on a public forum where people are likely to not just be horrified, but traumatised by them. Having no scruples with constantly putting out images of mangled bodies or sexually explicit videos suggests to the rest of us that you are a neanderthal who’s secretly thrilled by what would make a normal person sad or disgusted. There’s a reason grotesque images are heavily censored even in traditional media, and the fact that social media is not as censored should not translate to a lack of sensitivity to the senses of others.
Sharing Incessant Broadcast Messages: It doesn’t matter if it is fake news, real news, stale news, a random thought, a drunken person’s rant or a ridiculous opinion, some people will share it. They share everything. From Facebook to Whatsapp to BBM, the broadcast sharers are never tired of constituting a nuisance to the rest of us. They never have an independent opinion on matters and are not discerning enough to consider the relevance of a message before they share it. They simply share, and it’s all levels of annoying. When you share every single message that you receive, it simply means you lack good judgement and probably the intelligence required to sieve information. A new year beckons, please do better.
Blindly liking all of a person’s pictures: This phenomenon is common among newly accepted friends. Someone sends a friend request, and you accept their request, only for them to go on a “liking spree” of all your pictures from a hundred years ago to date. Pictures you have even forgotten you once posted. I am sorry, but the guys are mostly guilty of this. This gesture is downright creepy. It literally translates to stalking when you begin to like almost all the pictures a person (especially one you’re not particularly close to) who only just accepted your friend request. I know you are probably excited that you’re in close proximity to someone you admire or find attractive, but please have some self-control.
The Know-it-all syndrome: The impulse to appear knowledgeable about everything is often too hard to resist for some, however, it’s a huge turnoff. Whether the discourse centres around politics, entertainment, or even rocket science, they are quick to want to display their knowledge in a bid to earn respect. Sometimes people ask me why I am not commenting on a particular issue, and I am not ashamed to say I do not know enough about the subject matter to form an opinion on it. There’s no crime in not knowing everything. Who does anyway? If you have an opinion on every single matter then you really should ask yourself if you actually know that much about everything or are on a self-imposed intellectual ego trip.
Being a cyberbully or troll: These days there’s a silent battle to take the crown for the nastiest person on social media. Check out the most popular gossip blogs comment sections and a social media platform like Twitter, and you’ll find people trying hard to outdo themselves when it comes to who can make the most sarcastic or rude comment. A celebrity goofs innocuously and trolls respond with the most caustic remark they can think of. Many times, it appears to be all fun and games, but remember that some people have slipped into depression because they were bullied on social media. If you are one those who can never pass up an opportunity to lynch people with words in the virtual community, you really should consider quitting the despicable act.
It’s not enough to be excited about a new year, it’s a good time to make some necessary adjustments in the way we relate to others, and behaving right on social media is a good place to start.