• July 12th, 2020

Opinion - Social media literacy etiquettes for a civilised e-society

Lately, there has been a mayhem of citizens ill-using social media platforms by attacking the persona or humanities of their fellow human beings. Mostly, these are being carried out on Facebook and WhatsApp platforms. People are creating, sharing, recording unfavourable videos, audios, memes, posters, taking screen shots and text messages on these platforms for things that were not supposed to be in the public domain. Additionally, some issues are too sensitive to the humanity of an individual, but you will find even societal leaders commenting positively on these issues on social media. 

The majority of our citizens are insulted, discredited, name-called, exposed, accused of wrongdoings and above all their personal identities are devalued by their fellows. This is not the reason why we were created by God. Our creation was supposed to resemble God’s own image. But, lately one can easily see the opposite. The side effect is that people that tend to use social media wrongly by either spreading unverified news or discrediting others or their leaders or perhaps insulting as well as diminishing their cultural norms, values and disruptions, are the educated ones. 

Usually, the leading causes of online platform abuse are: (1). Negligence and self-pride attitude: that nothing will happen to me since there is no active law or legislation governing or controlling this. (2). Superficial artefacts and beliefs. 3). Poor institutional digital literacy programs. 4). Social pressure and defamation chronic disease: individuals cannot use social media as moneymaking or academically uplifting platforms, but rather they will use it as shaming and discipline platforms, which are contrary to their norms and values.
It is very disheartening that our professionals in various fields did not acquire digital ethical skills from the institutions where they studied and hence they currently behave in an unacceptable manner. This is the reason why currently people are talking about digital vigilantism as individuals turn themselves into police officers. This is not wrong at all, but it seems like our freedoms are no longer controllable and we are showing our true colours. Remember all the time people reading your posts, tweets, or articles, usually associate you with your cultural upbringing and the education level. There is nothing wrong when you are telling the truth digitally, however, discrediting others and name-calling as well as vilification are not allowed and permitted in the Namibian house. 

I am always advising my fellows to think a lot before they share, act, tweet or distribute any message or information on social media platforms. This is because you need to relate the effect to yourself, ask questions such as: what if it was me or my relative being dehumanised and being called names online; what if my children are seeing these things about me on social media? You need to think about the self-esteem of the next person that will be affected by your actions digitally. 

You are not fighting a personal civil war on social media; no need for you to launch destructive comments on your fellows; you do not need to sabotage your employer or country as it will be tantamount to unethical conduct; do not personalise issues on these platforms; avoid digital vigilantism-perpetrated activities; abstain from digital provocations and rumour-mongering exercises; treat yourself as a respected member of the society and sensitise and warn others when they are trespassing on social media. Social media is not a platform for grudges, revenge, requesting outstanding debts, punishing each other, and showing off muscles. It is a harmonious and inclusive-gathering platform for engagement.

Some possible consequences of online misbehaviours are: you may not even get a job in future as all the possible employers will know that you are a bad person who likes to insult and discredit others online; being stressed and frustrated as you are being prosecuted and will accuse people that they do not like you, but you worked for that societal punishment; being fired or tarnishing your image: usually perpetrators of these are likely to be fired and will make allegations of political witch-hunts.
Fellow citizens, there is nothing more nice and enjoyable than social media. If you are using it for a good cause, you are likely to make a lot of money out of it or possibly make a lot of friends or probably educate the whole world through your articles, posts or tweets. However, a grave concern is that we tend to be gossipers.

My people, when you are on social media, take note that the whole world is reading, watching and listening to what you are saying. And if you are saying it negatively, you will be a laughing stock in your society. You need to familiarise yourself with in-country laws and legislation governing social media and other offline engagements activities. Try to be a responsible digital citizen of your time. None would like people to say bad things about you. We all want to be praised and rewarded for our earthly work and behaviour, however, if your social media pages are unholy, disgusting, destructive, tribal, ethnical, lack positive congruence, then you need to forget about all these good things we are talking about from social media platforms. Stop treating social media as an entertainment and socialisation platform. 
Recently people have been accusing politicians (the few that use social media) of abusing it. However, ordinary citizens are the ones that abuse and wrongly use these platforms. I am always advising citizens that the consequences of abusing these platforms looks simple to you, but by the time law enforcement agencies implement and execute these, you can spend the rest of your life in jail. 
My appeal to the government of the Republic of Namibia as well as the private sector is to fund various digital literacy initiatives. Institutions of higher learning really need to take a lead here. Curricula should be aggressive in this area to ensure that we have responsible citizens that can spread the gospel of digitalisation.  The time has now come for us to change our digital behaviour. Being a digital literate citizen you will never go wrong. All digital platforms will be your career progression tools or ladder. But with ignorance and I-do-not-care self-pride, you will find yourself on wrong the side of the law. 

I will not be happy to see fellow Namibians being harassed and equally losing their jobs due to a lack of digital literacy. Please, educate, share, entertain with limits and know when to socialise and make jokes. Most of the time you find citizens claiming that they never knew that what they were doing is offensive and is punishable by law. This is what really makes my heart pain the most. Let us kick digital illiteracy out of Namibia. Welcome digital literacy and let us enjoy digital civilisation for social harmony and progress!

Staff Reporter
2020-06-19 10:37:14 | 23 days ago

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