“Madaling magtago sa social media but in reality, how you conduct yourself in person, sana ganun ka din online. Kung hindi mo kayang sabihin sa harap ng lola mo, wag mong sasabihin online.”
These words from entrepreneur and digital marketing strategist, Rosario Juan, is so true that only the most callous will brush them off. Yung makakapal ang mukha pero duwag. Mali ang sense of relevance sa mundo.
The thing is, what you are online should be no different from who you are as a person — a living, thinking human being. Juan is right. The comments I read in social media and online news portal posts these days can put the most foul-mouthed sailors in the planet to shame. True, this is a democracy, and we have the right to say our piece, but any decent, sentient being knows the consequences of going too far with this liberty. What do they associate with having this much power? Oh, yes, RESPONSIBILITY.
And now, this: cheap shots at both Duterte and the yellow army concerning the recent bombing in Davao City.
This is seriously embarrassing, to say the least. There is obvious lack of class and wanton misuse of opinion. Clearly, the digital media landscape in the Philippines has yet to reach maturity. Juan added that while Filipinos have put social media to good use by mobilizing help in times of calamities, this particular digital space has also been subject to so much negativity and abuse.
“It’s been so negative, ang daming trolls, nag-aaway online, hindi na nakikinig ang mga tao,” Juan added. TV5’s senior manager for new media, Carlo Ople, attributes this online “phenomenon” to the Filipinos’ lack of knowledge and training on how to properly use social media.
“People consume too much (information from social media) without thinking properly. Ang nakikita lang nila e yung headline so naniniwala na sila kung ano ang nasa headline. It’s such a powerful tool to be educated but you really have to get in there and read content properly,” Ople said.
Evidently, proper digital media etiquette is one of the habits that Filipinos need to imbibe, which is exactly what social media group TweetUpMNL advocates through its annual Social Media Day. Media organizations like GMA and groups like Google’s Web Rangers are also doing their own share of educating the public about such issues as cyberbullying.
If the government’s existing Cybercrime Prevention Act does not cover “cybercrassness”, then we should at least be responsible enough to police our own ranks. Start with our own circle of “friends” in our respective social media accounts. Call them out if you find them going out of line. Then do the same in online fora. Sure, it’s not your duty to be the righteous one, but keep in mind that this kind of (mis)communication will be inherited by future generations. You might get bullied in return, but be the bigger person and know that you are dealing with people who need to be educated about good netizenship.
Call out, speak out, reach out. We are all sharing the same digital space, and we have the right as much as the next troller. Kapit lang.
It’s alright to give strong, passionate opinions and comments online. Just be mindful of your manners. It starts with the right attitude and awareness that the person online and offline are one and the same.