Why social media inspires antisocial behaviour in us
Social media was supposed to give the faceless masses a platform for self-expression.
Propaganda, publicity, disinformation, hype, deception, dishonesty, fraud, trickery. these are just some of the attributes associated with social media today. It wasn't always so. It was initially supposed to connect us with our friends and relatives who we may have lost touch with. I remember getting really excited when a school friend who I last met in 1994 pinged me on Facebook in 2008. We went on to, virtually of course, locate our other common friends and one of them even scanned and shared our school farewell album on FB. Some eight-ten of us must have spent weeks discussing and reminiscing good ol' days.
From connecting, online denizens then graduated to shaping and sharing opinion on Twitter, having work-related analysis and arguments on LinkedIn, showing off food, clothes, and destinations on Instagram, and so on. It was still all good - harmless at the very least. Somewhere down the line, however, we seem to have gotten caught in the web of trolls and scammers who not only abuse and insult but also swindle and blackmail.
Social media was supposed to give the faceless masses a platform for self-expression, the freedom to make their opinion count and an opportunity to network with potential clients and colleagues. Its deceptive anonymity, somehow, seems to be bringing out the worst in some. There are those who think nothing before doling out obscene insults and scandalous abuses.
And then there are those who have perfected the art of befriending to betray on social media. A couple of cases being heard in Abu Dhabi courts highlight the extent of the problem. The first case is of an 18-year-old girl who was kidnapped and raped by a man she met on social media. The other is of another young woman who was blackmailed into paying Dh700,000 to an online 'lover' after he threatened to publish her inappropriate photos on social media. The culprits, of course, need to be punished, but a part of the blame lies with the victims who let their guard down. Let's remember to observe basic social media etiquette: share or say only what one would in a room full of real people.