I love the Internet. It gave birth to Social Media. I love Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. Mark Zuckerberg was a genius for creating Facebook. Now Facebook is like the norm. It is like your official passport to humanity. It comes natural as the air we breath. If you don’t have a Facebook, people would assume you are dead. Even 9-month-old babies have their own Facebook account. Also 80 year old lolos & lolas have their Facebook accounts too as they click Like with their arthritic fingers on every photos their grandchildren post. Social media is a venue to reconnect with long lost friends and to maintain friendships even if you are far away. It is also a blessing for couples in LDRs (long-distance relationships) like me because it allows us to stay connected with our partners. In social media, we are educated, informed and updated with currents news, discoveries and happenings. It helps us with conversations starters with new acquaintances. It keeps us entertained and allows us to converse directly online with people we look up to, celebrities & famous personalities. It gives us instant answers to our never-ending query. It nurtures our “fast-food” mentality of getting everything what we need now and ‘to-go’. It allows me to share my recommendations and my realizations that might help others (I hope). I get to read articles and blogs that inspire me to live positively & boldly and makes me laugh & scream with delight until I fall off the chair.
But little by little, this social media frenzy is turning into an uncontrollable monster. It has now become the Master of everyone & anyone and not anymore, the “option” we turn to when we are bored. Did you remember the time when the wifi is down and internet connection is bad, we scream in agony and our fingers ache to touch our keyboards once again to comment on that status update. It is like a life force has been snatch away from us. It is like our existence is internally link to our Facebook persona. A few hours away from our Facebook & Twitter page, we panic of what we have missed out on. Social media now doesn’t serve us, we serve the social media because we realize it has a great power — a power to create and a power to destroy.
A couple of months, the spotlight was on Sen.Tito Sotto. He was accused of plagiarizing a blogger’s article for his speech. That is the magic of the internet for you. You can “borrow” a writer’s words by the amazing technique of copy-paste. From then on, Sen. Sotto was bombarded with insults after insults in all types of social media. He been called names, cursed, memes & parody created and has been filed a lawsuit. He was the virtual punching bag all around the blogosphere. If he deserves it or not? That is not for me to say. But what I can see here is how powerful social media can destroy a person’s life. It has a sharp blade that can tear you up into pieces and a gloves made of steel that can pound you until you turn into useless dust with every words thrown at you. It is a scary realization that one false move can ruin a person’s dignity in one split second through social media.
Now, comes the latest social media victim. We all hear about the #Amalayer incident. A young lady humiliating a lady guard at a MRT Station. Now this rude lady is the latest trending topic. The public is appalled by what she did to lady guard. Her English grammar has been dissected, her English twang has been ridiculed, her audition tapes for Myx was revealed and her educational background has been investigated. I believe it was totally wrong of her to embarrassed and scream at the lady guard. She has belittled the poor lady guard in public. BUT WAS IT RIGHT TO VIDEOTAPE THE INCIDENT? And then, to upload it for everyone to hurl criticisms at her like we are Simon Cowell in American Idol?
Did we realize that what happened to her can very much happen to us in some other days? Are you not fearful that mobile phone camera are now the new centuries’ weapon, like a high-tech light-saber that can cut & make us bleed with shame and embarrassment. We have our bad-days and we can snap on the poor service in a restaurant and a video can upload with all the visual effects & sounds making us look like the biggest Bitch from Hell. Some would say but I am never rude to anyone and that can never happen to me. But social media doesn’t just victimize the brazen and hostile but also the meek & harmless. You can slip on the floor, you can sit on a chair with gum, you have wet yourself after not being able to hold your bladder and there are very ready camera phones that can record those incidents. The Amalayer lady is not the first one who has been bash in the internet-sphere. You have Christopher Lao who was pitifully criticized for driving his car on a flooded street causing it to float. His academic achievement was questioned even Hitler got so mad.
But Christopher Lao was one of the victims of cyberbullying who rise above it all. He even spoke in the Social Good Summit, inspiring people and educating people about cyberbullying. Another is Robert Blair Carabuena, the guy who attacked a MMDA officer was also victim of cyberbullying, turning him into the big bad devil’s incarnate before our eyes. Again, do they deserve it to not? It is not our place to decide.
Some of the victims are bullies. Should we agree to the statement that “the punishment should fit the crime” by fighting bullies by bullying them and making them consume the bitter taste of their own medicine? We always hated the bullies of our elementary & high school days. We all say, “No to Bullies!”. But by participating in this pack-mentality, we ourselves turned into these vicious bullies we hate as we participate in jeering and insulting the new ” social media” victim. It is fun to be part of a crowd. We feel strong and righteous to throw a stone since everyone else is throwing. But wait until the tables have turned and the stone will be thrown at you.
Then you realized how much we allowed social media to overpower us. Internet and the Social media is a powerful tool. It is both a gift and a curse. And as Spiderman’s aunt said, “ In great power comes great responsibility“…