Sunday, January 7, 2018

Social Media Etiquettes

When we were young, we were taught manners and etiquette. To say sorry, pleases and thank yous wherever required. I studied in a catholic school, where we started our day with moral science classes. They were and have been instrumental in building up a conscious in me. Our sisters and teachers instilled in us the belief and love for god. The advantages of discipline. The power of forgiveness, helping the needy, the value of cleanliness and most importantly respect towards all. Even when venturing into the professional life, we were given training on how to dress formally, how to communicate with clients, how to negotiate deals, the art of subtle email writings, perfect table manners and personal hygiene. For everything thing we do and any venture that we step onto, there is a code of conduct. A set of do’s and dont's that need to be followed. After all that’s the thing which sets up apart from animals.

But digitization has come up with such a bang that we had literally no time to prepare for how to present ourselves when online. With twitter and Instagram we can just follow anybody with a click. Gain an insight into their lives or whatever they choose to share online. There are many other mediums which give us an opportunity to share across our views with amongst a humongous audience. But do we leverage the benefit of this correctly? Now that’s a very debatable question. I have spent an extreme amount of time last year to analyze how people react and comment on various platforms. My focus was on comments and discussion forums on popular websites like twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Quora and of course Facebook. My observations from the entire case study was shocking, cringe-worthy, appalling and sometimes all the three.

So let’s dig a little deeper. Now we all have some fascination with film stars, cricketers and people in entertainment field. And we now have a medium to feel connected with whosoever we like. But some people choose this medium to showcase their crassness. The kind of comments some of them leave will make anyone flinch in disgust. The area of comments will vary from insensitive remarks to vulgar comments of sexual nature to making fun of body parts to moral policing or simply trolling. I fail to understand the pleasure people drive from this. Does it somehow make them feel powerful? Does belittling someone feel good? Is it just for the sake of doing it? Or is it fearlessness about the fact that the opponent is sitting miles away and hence harmless.

I understand we cannot love/like everyone and neither can be always agree with someone else’s point of view. But we can ignore or have a healthy debate. It can get heated but under no circumstance should it come to such an extent that you have to badmouth, abuse and bring just about anyone from mothers, sisters, relatives and even Gods into your fights. Which I must point are stupid to begin with. Now topics which I have observed to be getting into these ugly comment zones are – Hindu/Muslim, Kashmiri Muslims Vs The Rest of India (whom they funnily refer to as Biharis), BJP Vs Congress, Modiji Lovers (popularly known as Bhakts on Quora) Vs Non Modiji Lovers (who call themselves secular), North Indians Vs South Indians (The hate portrayed here by some is unbelievable), Feminists Vs Men-who-hate-them and also Salman Khan fans Vs Shahrukh Khan fans (I kid you. Not). There are huge threads of comments on posts over these topics. And by huge I mean HUGE (like Big Data huge). Comment-reply-another reply-abuse-abuse-MyReligionIsBetterThanYours-Reply-Comment-Abuse-AndItGoesOn….

Talking about myself, I have carefully spaced myself out from the spider web that’s posts like these. Once I left a comment on a discussion forum about Kashmir. It was more of my personal feeling and expression but within minutes I received a notification that someone had replied to it. So I open a very rude, unnecessary, attacking and totally uncalled-for comment. Now I could feel my blood bubbling with anger, cheeks burning with rage. So I quickly opening my MS Word and started typing my answer back furiously (MS Word because anger can cause some serious spelling and grammar mishaps!). Satisfied with my reply after proof reading I was just about to copy-paste when a thought crossed my mind. This man who has commented on my post unwarranted without any provocation will definitely do it again after I reciprocate. In-fact I was serving him with exactly what he wanted. Now he may not have a life or anything better to do but I sure did. It was almost 7 and I had dinner to prepare. So I did the unthinkable. I deleted what I had posted originally hence giving myself the much needed closure. Now many might call me a coward but I’d say - anything for peace man! I have no patience or time for this sh** in life. But alas, there are few very like me for others this mind throbbing scenario brings some kind of adrenaline rush.

Last year also brought about this phenomena of trolls & memes. Social media enthusiasts spent a major amount of their time tagging each other in funny relatable memes. As much as I love laughing over the cleaver ones, I cannot ignore the fact that some of them tend towards being highly insensitive. Very recently people has a gala time laughing and sharing funny-face-pictures of Junior Ambani. But it turns out poor guy is suffering from sinusitis and borderline asthma, hence was breathless during his speech.

Internet is a fabulous place. The social networking platforms are great when used in the right manner. But by being abusive, bullying, stalking, bad mouthing and talking nonsense, more than the other person you are harming yourself. Your credibility and your set of values are at stake.It just goes on to say that your opinion is not strong enough to make a point and hence you resort to the dirty tactics. Moreover you are making the entire experience of unwinding and browsing for a person who has had a long day (or starting his day sitting on commode) very very sour.

Now that I have spoken to my hearts content, I present to you some proofs that I collected along. After a lot of brainstorming and censoring presenting the few that made the cut. Please brace yourself for some hardcore abuses.

Le Sigh!