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Sep 30 / Viji Iyer

Recognizing our social media responsibility!

Photo by A J Baxter

Ready access to technology has made us more powerful that ever before! We have the power today to make anything viral if we rally our forces and energies behind spreading that singular message. All it needs is a click of a button to forward and share it with a multitude of others. Advent of social media today has made that possible. Like everything else, there are two facets to using power. If used and exercised judiciously social media has the clout to raise awareness practically overnight in support of a humanitarian cause. We have witnessed and participated in several such efforts in the recent past. Case in point- Katrina victims, the Haiti relief efforts, Pakistan flood efforts, Gulf oil spill relief and rescue efforts. All of which targeted towards aiding the victims across the globe.

However, the same power if used carelessly can cause more damage than you can imagine! I was compelled to write this post after watching the news today on how social media played a role in the tragic demise of Tyler Clementi, a young freshman at Rutgers University. The 18-year old accomplished violinist, tragically committed suicide after learning that that his college roommate had surreptitiously video recorded him during his private moment and broadcast it live without his consent. The otherwise considered shy and distinguished musician’s last words were left on his Facebook page “Jumping off the gw bridge sorry.” Unfortunately, nobody could save this young man’s life in time.

This may be one such tragic case that surfaced online, but it comes as a huge warning and wake-up sign for all social media users. This is a glaring example of invasion of privacy and taking social media to the other extreme. We all at some point in time may have video recorded some incident perhaps at a party, and shared it jokingly with our friends. We may not necessarily think twice or make much of that supposedly funny incident except to share a few laughs while forwarding it to others. However, as a society, we need to be more conscious and bear some social media responsibility!

In this digital age with ready access to technology and the ability to disperse information instantaneously, has blurred the line of privacy converting most things into an entertainment value. Lesson to be learnt is that we don’t become puppets in the hands of technology! Hiding behind an ‘avatar’ does not give us the permission to act irresponsibly. We need to constantly remind ourselves that there is an actual person just like you sitting behind that computer that deserves the same respect as you.  Be it sending out a tweet on Twitter, updating your Facebook status, uploading and sharing photos on Flickr or forwarding a YouTube video to others, we all need to exercise proper judgment. It is important that we recognize the repercussions of our actions versus falling victims to our own making.

If everybody does their bit and acts responsibly using good judgment, social media’s positive impacts can be that much more amplified.

Photo by AJ Baxter

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