I am writing this while we are in the thick of the corona virus quarantine. It is post midnight of 20th April 2020. It is 18′ C in Melbourne, comparatively warmer than it has been in the past few days. Their are not too many means of staying engaged. Please don’t get me wrong. I am in no way complaining as whatever is there is enough for someone who was previously living a fleeting life mostly working in and out of home. A rare time for someone who had forgotten what it was like to stay at home for days and find occupation in the kitchen, within the confines of the four walls-cooking to feed the hungry and the bored ,tending to needs of the kids and retiring in the evening to social media, Netflix and at times YouTube.
Without wasting time let me put the focus on the subject of social media and particularly Facebook. Is there anyone who is not familiar with Face book which has about 2.375bn billion monthly active users as of Q3 (2018) and also has about a 1.49 billion active users daily (Smith, 2019). It does not take long to figure out that since the world is facing a lock down and people are spending more time at home; face book is even busier . People are connecting like never before. New trends are being made everyday and quickly forgotten as well to be replaced by something else. With social isolation the social animal called humans is finding ways to connect through social medias like Facebook. The face book timelines are now filled with pictures of Dalgona coffee , photo dares and saree challenges.People are finding engagement in trying laborious recipes which previously few considered making.
The present scenario out of the way I would like to now discuss something which has been on my mind from some time. Do you think Facebook which is a virtual society just like normal society requires a set of etiquette? Firstly let us discuss here as to what are the different types of posts seen on Facebook:
- Humorous-Based on common areas of one’s identity such as parenting, student life, and so on;
- Sarcasm-Sometimes coated in humor but mostly their is a message behind it;
- Political-Usually depicting a person’s / communities political preferences or inclinations
- Activism-Usually the person is aiming to bring a change; an unconscious or even deliberate attempt at practicing self- advocacy
- Interactive-in the form of quiz/games and entertaining in nature
- Games and apps-depictive of fun and playfulness, innocent even
- Personal posts- usually sharing images or experiences , mostly where the subject is family/ friends or any other kind of social relation
I may have missed some other kinds but consider myself as open to suggestions. However the point of my writing this is a concern I have.
Calling out to those sharing outright political or activist posts, which is also easy to understand as one may be affected by what they views in their news feeds, its only human. However only if one is able to learn through the news feeds on their timelines as to what is occurring politically/socially across the span of the globe does not imply that their posts too regarding the same is being heard and going to cause any serious changes at a considerable level. Not everyone including me is that prominent or influential . In a nutshell if you were to really understand the workings of Facebook you may picture it as being within the same circle, where all the friends on your Facebook profile are able to know your views by seeing your posts.
It is without doubt a place to speak your mind as most would think. It is your profile and you do have a right to share your views even if they are political and of a stinging nature at times. How else could a person change the world if they never denounced the wrong and not furiously criticized a nefarious politician who fills them up with contempt. How in the world could someone be quiet in the face of grave injustice? Would it not make their existence meaningless ?Right , is’t it?
Wrong. Yes you read it right. It is not right.
Considering that you have a fair mix of friends , differences of opinions are bound to exist whether they are political /religious or of any other nature. To be fair it does at times even start a healthy debate in one of those few times while on others their is some heated argument even leading to unfriending , blocking or name callings. Also it may be considered that their are quiet a few who are religiously sharing their views and being very popular in doing so. However it is not going to work the same for everyone. It may be because once again it totally relies on the quality of your friends on Facebook. For instance if you are fairly politically opinionated in your every day life and constantly receiving support from your FB followers it should be fine .
As for others less fortunate ,an emotionally intelligent person is aware that any success at a certain platform is attributed to one’s relation with their audience. Firstly know your audiences and their likes.When going against that you may invite a few intolerant or unfavorable dialogues too in the process , if not getting completely ignored or filling some of those on your friend list with silent contempt and if its practice is recurring rest assured you are probably on the negative friend list if not already unfriended or blocked.
The problem does not lie with one’s expressing what they believe in but the difference in how you are treating your friend in the virtual world as compared to how you were in the real world. Picture this, a friend on your face book list was someone whom you made friends with by building rapport on areas of commonality. However now the only side that they see of you is your rants about the areas of differences that you both may have.In a worst case scenario your expression of views may be directly in contrast to what they desire or prefer. Rather than being heard by those at whom the post was directed at , it is probably being echoed to those you would never share those views with in the real world.
Is your social media profile similar to who you portray to be to those friends in the real world,or are you some alien activist they have no idea of? If there is no connect between the two images you present then there is bound to be confusion and an alienation which may not prove to be desirable in the longer time-frame. Unless you are someone who would never really care, days later or even deep down of what their friends think of them.
In general people enjoy positive messages and posts on social media. Your rant may seem fair enough to you but it may rub people on the wrong side in case you wanted to know what could go wrong.
Anything put out on social media is actually like a arrow which leaves the bow. Once released it may not be undone. Even if one removes the post , chances are that they are seen by most and it is not humanly possible to erase its memories from their minds. So be cautious about what you are posting. Of course it is easier to throw caution to the winds and post what you like. However for anyone caring about their mental health would realize that our relations with our friends and acquaintances are important . We cannot underplay the role of human connection and for many it may also reflect on their mental health and self esteem. Thus being mindful is an advise one may take lest throwing caution to the winds does not turn in your favor.
It is easier to understand how to behave if you contemplate on how one behaves when actually meeting people in reality ,the least we may try to be is be pleasant to people. In real life you would be mindful of what you would say to them so that you form a connection rather than driving them away, is it not so? So why does one behave so recklessly virtually, is something to ponder over. We often forget that as humans we must go by some social etiquette on social media too. This may only be observed by being kind in speech at all times including when we are on social media.
Our social media and our drawing room conversations may not always be alike.Facebook must not be confused to be a place to have your bedroom conversations in.
By saying this, I in no way am propagating that one must develop a saccharine image on social media, full of fake goodness and displays of appeasement . The question then would be which is a lesser evil, to some it is the same as being toxic or scathing with one’s views. The message is to be as true to the image that you may be portraying in the real world. The idea is to be real and consciously make decisions on whatever we decide to post. If one is confused over something they would like to post then sleep over it.
If one has nothing to post or there is a lot of confusion , not posting anything is also in sound judgement. Not saying anything at all if we are unsure is also something to practice . Being a Muslim I am often inspired by the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), which for now would be ‘speak good or be silent ‘. Also because sometimes peace is more important than being right. Right?
Smith, K. (2019). 53 Incredible Facebook Statistics and Facts. Retrieved from https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/facebook-statistics/
The Hadith. Sahih Bukhari, Book 18, Hadith 1511. Retrieved from https://sunnah.com/riyadussaliheen/18/1