Social media essentially refers to a range of websites that enable people to interact worldwide using discussion, photos, audio and video.Facebook was the first social network to exceed one billion registered accounts, according to the latest data by global statistics portal Statista. It’s become so quick and simple to offend thousands of people with a single click or even embarrass oneself using smart phones etc.
In times gone by, if you wanted to send someone a rude message, you needed to find paper and a pen, sit and write down your thoughts, hunt for an envelope and a stamp, take the time to get to a post-box or post office, and finally wait for it to be delivered to your target. This lengthy process gave you plenty of time to have second thoughts, and then decide not to send the letter after all. Nowadays your smartphone is always at hand and with a flurry of agile fingers and a single tap, your message is out in the world. For me it becomes a war unto oneself if the world is made to know of family quarrels etc. In Shona we have a saying (Mombe haivhiyirwi paruzhinji). In English they say one should not wash their dirty linen in public. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying sharing is bad, for examples –religious articles, birthdays, campaigns etc, that’s not bad, but when it comes to things like heated family arguments, strong views that demean other groups of people , racism or sexism only to mention a few, that’s a step too far.
A more curious thing about social media is the way people have turned it to what has been called the “antisocial media”. Many people manage to hold two contradictory and highly inaccurate beliefs about these media. On the one hand they assume that the world at large is waiting breathlessly for the latest tantalising snippet of their everyday lives – so they photograph their breakfast or announce their arrival at the mall, as though thousands, all over the world, will exclaim with delight and rush to inform the masses.
At other times, though, they behave as though these media were completely private, enabling them to vent freely and post wildly inappropriate things as if they were whispering into the ear of a sympathetic friend. They then express shock and horror when the public at large express dismay at the revelation of their inner ugliness.
Part of the problem is the reckless way people use social media, without really thinking about why they are doing it, what effect their words will have, and whether it will be of any use to anyone. Another snag is the way technology has made it too easy to spread your most trivial and unedited thoughts.
Such comments are like “dick pix” – other people are inevitably less impressed than you want them to be, and you can’t take them back, or hide them when a prospective employer or lover decides to explore your traces.
The more urgently you feel the urge to blurt out your opinion, the wiser it is to write a draft and leave it for a while before sending it. You might look at it an hour or even a day later and realise that it serves no purpose and should rather be deleted.
- Don’t befriend just anyone. A rule of thumb is to only befriend people you know in real life. Use Facebook as an extension of your existing circle of friends.
- What you share electronically stays in cyberspace forever, therefore don’t share or post anything you don’t feel comfortable with
- You can now ask to pre-approve or review photographs or posts you are tagged in (Privacy settings – Timeline and Tagging).
- Be considerate of your friends’ privacy as well – don’t post anything about them or their photographs without asking them if they are comfortable with the post. Photographs that could potentially cause embarrassment should definitely not be posted. Be careful of how you and your friends portray yourselves – sexy and drunken photographs should not be on Facebook.
- Don’t post anything such as addresses or cell numbers that make you easy to find.Remember some people lost their jobs because of what they post on social media!