It seems like every day something is posted on social media that brings pain, anger and negativity to others in this small society we live in. Technology has given rise to powerful tools, but it has also unearthed a lot of the ugliness in humanity. As the saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility” and, as with
all tools, care must be taken lest one injures another or even harms oneself when using social media.
As technology advances it has given its users greater control of their environment and increased their capabilities. One area that has seen an unprecedented dynamic growth is the social media sphere, which has exploded across the globe to bring messages, images and video to a potential billions of users, all at the touch of a button.
Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr to name a few, have exploded onto the scene, grabbing their share of global interest. Here in Barbados, Facebook and Whatsapp appear to be the leading spheres where locals interact.
And no longer does one have to wait for access to a computer station, with the easy access of smartphones and a readily available communications network that includes wifi, potential users can be logged on in as much time as it takes to move one’s fingers.
However, as was noted above, social media is not always used to send positive messages. A few years ago, before the term “fake news” became popular, there was a rash of false media bulletins issued through Whatsapp for instance, which ultimately were revealed to be untruths. Likewise, malicious content has been shared via Facebook and Instagram. Sadly, some of this content has even escaped the social media sphere and entered the wider World Wide Web on sites like Youtube, where viewers are usually not restricted by those who post the content.
In some cases though, the content may be truthful but, because we are only privy to a small clip of the actual occurrence and have no background information, it can be misconstrued and the outcome be just as devastating as if it were an untruth.
In society today, there is a sentiment that social media is for the young people and, though this group may comprise a large portion of the social media audience, that does not mean that the older population would not indulge on occasion, or themselves be the subject of someone else’s production. We have seen images where unsuspecting people have been exposed for all the world to see, without even their knowledge.
The world is travelling in the direction of being a more open place and there are people that are of the view that this openness is a positive because of a growing need for transparency; but where does one draw the line?
What becomes apparent, is that social media is not the problem, people are the problem. As with any tool, social media can be used to build up or break down. Truthful and positive information can be shared and untruths debunked, all on social media.
It can no longer be considered a fad or pastime, it is the new norm and a huge responsibility is being placed on members of the public to police themselves and others when publishing material, especially when young children are the subject of this material.
We must be careful that the same technology that builds us as a people does not become our undoing.