|Photo cred : We Never Look Up|
In the age of social media and fast networking, information can reach us within seconds and viraling an issue is as simple as clicking the share button. The moment an air-flight company deny service to someone in The United States, next minute you know, a girl in India who is lying in her bed got the news. This tool is deemed powerful and also useful to get attention to recent events that needs a collective effort from many people. However, are we too quick when it comes to sharing?
We are very reactive towards things that has the ability to play or touch our emotion, be it an issue, an event or a creative work. Perhaps it is something about our past that made us able to relate to it or a deep fear we have towards an issue or a passion towards certain topics, we constantly share on social media according to our preferences. Different people share different things. But there's one thing that constantly puts you in a difficult position if you do not share it. Have you felt like a bad person when someone actually tells you "Please forward this to everyone you know" or "Please spread this" and you didn't?
These kinds of favour actually varies from asking for donations, help finding a missing boy to public awareness on scam syndicates or a new imposed regulation. Many wants to use the amazing power of internet and networking in their favour to get these messages out there. We all know what the internet have done and can do. We've seen too many viraled stories and too many cases of people getting famous just because their stories are out there, constantly getting shared. It's like a high school gossip channel where you get to know who is dating who and what Sarah did last break. Only this time, high school consists of the entire world and Sarah can easily be... well, anyone. Many figured, oh, if Sarah matters, why not me or my message?
First thing's first, we have to understand, though the internet seems as if it works like the high school gossip channel, it doesn't. You may not know Sarah personally but you might have seen her your whole life. There's a more humane touch to each news sent and received. Fact checking is easy because you can walk up to people you hear stories about and ask or you might know who is a reliable source to fact check certain rumors. You are also more likely into getting involved in an activity you heard about because you know who is organizing and why they are organizing them. Not getting left out during your high school life may be one of the important things in your social life. You get in the loop, you are a part of the group. However, on the internet, you do not know everyone. This lack of personal touch can make people quite mean and ignorant. They also may simply disregard the important things you have to say. Plus, high school stories always go around the same thing. Love life, social life and achievements. The real life is not like that, there's more to it. There's politics, economy and technology advancements that require attention of everyone in the world. There's also local cases like people losing their things, missing people, local activities and charity work. But all these things are being shared through the same platform. So how are we going to go through all these, keeping updates of what we need or what's important and not getting some news or information lost?
Social media has improved so much now to meet users' behaviours. One that I appreciate the most is the filter feature on Facebook. You can choose who can see your posts. They also have auto-clustered (you can also do it manually) your friends into groups like friends from work, school, friends living in your area, family members etc etc. This way you can target your post to specific people, if the issue is not something general. You can also customize your preference for your news feed. From who do you want to give priority to whenever they post something to who you want to unfollow. Unfollow on Facebook is not the same as unfriend. You are still friends of each other though you unfollow. This way, you will not lose their friendship, but at least you don't have to constantly see updates on that band your friend is obsessed about. You can also choose to block stories from certain apps. Done with which celebrity your friends look like because you don't care? Block the app and your problem is gone.
There's one problem with this feature. Though Facebook is smart to guess which type of friend you lie into, they still heavily rely on data and if those data is not provided, even Facebook can't do anything. I understand and respect people that wants to guard their privacy and do not fill up their current information on social medias. They have the right to do that and I am sure they have their own very relevant reasons. But knowing this, many do not depend on the feature that Facebook has to ensure their targeted audience gets the info. For example, you are one of the committee in an event on your campus. Of course you want to spread the news to people who you know can attend the event which means you should set your post to "Near your area". However, you don't want to risk people not seeing it due to how many people not letting Facebook knows their location, you set the privacy to "Public" instead. Now the whole world knows there will be an eating competition on your campus. True, social medias also takes relevance into consideration but how far can it go? Whatsapp for example, can never filter information for you. I know you are starting to get bored of some friends that keeps trying to sell their stuff on you work group but Whatsapp can't possibly know that you don't want to see that.
Using social medias has started to become an annoyance and a waste of time. It is quite hard to go through or endure all those information. Saying "You should get off of it if you feel that way" is so 2012. Instead of going backwards, why don't we go forward and instill good sharing ethics. Let's start off with Whatsapp group. Before sharing anything, think this way. If everyone in that group is in front of you, would you have said the same thing to their face? If no, do not share. If yes, then by all means, go ahead. If you do not know half of the people in there, maybe you should consider not sharing. Remember I told you about how connecting through devices lacks human touch? Annoyance can happen not because they feel a certain way towards you but they become less considerate towards your situation. What about Facebook? Well, if you ask me, that's the perfect place to share anything you like because people who intentionally turn to their Facebook wants to pass their time so anything you have to say becomes relevant there. However, do be careful when you are sharing things you do not know who it is from or what the real story is. Sharing something untrue makes you just as guilty as the one starting the controversy. Do not react too fast. Again, think before you click share and putting your comments. On Twitter, I believe people should start knowing how to differentiate between being funny, witty, pathetic and stupid. If you feel a tweet can hurt someone's feelings, why would you want to retweet that? I know, I know, Twitter is a crazy jungle and trying to clean that mess up is impossible. But do consider being responsible on your retweets as well, it is important that dumb tweets do not get attention.
Now back to my original concern, why can't you use Internet to help you forward messages? Power of the people has the mind of its own. If it is worth spreading, it will get spread. Randomly helping people is good, no doubt. But just like how you would think twice before donating to that stranger in the streets, that's what you should do too before you waste your time and other people's time by sharing that one post you don't even know who it's from and how bad the actual situation is. I know, in time like this where kindness is so scarce and would be highly appreciated, why do we want to stop ourselves from sprinkling a little of it along the way? Because we have to be smart in being kind and simply putting a little kindness to one person before the kindness to many others is not. It's not fair to waste people's time on some other person's petty story that you could have not be apart of if you just didn't click share.
So, before you click share... THINK.