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We feel like gladiators in this arena

How to grow together on social media in the Year of the Youth
/ 05:15 AM January 19, 2019

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ILLUSTRATION BY DIEGO TRIBDINO

The most remarkable thing about 2018 was witnessing the  power of social media.

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From promoting a product or an advocacy, to condemning atrocious behavior or precipitating the downfall of erring government officials, and expressing joy or anger over anything under the sun, people took to Facebook and Twitter to air their concerns—their voices amplified globally online.

The internet is constantly in a flux of change. From inane posts like “JWU,” “OMG,” “ATM, watching this really cool movie,” Facebook and Twitter have turned into a gladiator arena where nobody would want to be on center stage.

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Just before the yearend, a junior high school student was thrust on center stage in a series of videos that showed him bullying his classmates.

Whether or not that young person deserves the backlash is not our topic here. What is, is the proclamation of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) of 2019 as the Year of the Youth.

Everyone can be youthful

If the dictionary’s definition of youth includes “the time of life when one is young,” in the context of social media, everyone can be considered youthful. I think we are all juvenile, or at least behave like kids, online.

And imagine, if our tito and tita, or even our lolo or lola, joined social media only recently, long after we first created our Facebook or Twitter profile, that makes us “older” than they.

Yet we are the ones who constantly have to explain what memes and internet language mean, including the functions to enhance the web experience.

Of course, that’s just the lighter side of things. We’ve been netizens for sometime, but it doesn’t mean we’re the only ones welcome on cyberspace.

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Whole new world

We didn’t see it coming. Perhaps even the creators of the different online platforms didn’t see how constructive and destructive these “places” can be.

Many of us have actually created a whole new world online—which mirrors the harsh realities of the physical world. We must be careful in the continuous creation of this world.

We’ve seen what can contribute to the destruction and deterioration of the earth, of friendships and relationships with other people.

Fake news

I’m not saying it’s wrong to voice out opinion, to expose wrongdoing, to call out mistakes, especially fake news. We now have a wider concept and use of freedom of expression, but to what extent?

Hostility via constant bashing towards those we disagree with? Propagating fake information? These are just two of the many questions that netizens should ponder before pressing send or share.

Think about this: We are on social, not personal, media. While disappointing for some, we have created a society, an online culture—everything that we say or do will be seen and creates an impact on others in small or big ways.

All our posts online make us accountable. Imagine, a simple “wave” from your Facebook Messenger may be construed by the receiver as an act of flirting.

I’m not saying we have to agree with one another on everything. That’s impossible. What’s important is to hear each other out.

Math has taught me that there is no single solution to a problem. The same holds true for online discourse. Healthy discussions can bring about multiple possibilities and solutions to problems—some of which we may not have thought possible due to our closed-mindedness.

Hopefully, 2019 will be a year that fosters understanding of one another online, when we can learn to be responsible netizens.

It’s easy to fall for fake news; in that sense we’re like babies growing up in the physical world. I’ve met young and old people who are new to social media, who easily believe everything they see.

It’s been a crazy year online. Some have decided to give up on “socmed” and delete their accounts because of how toxic it has become.

But let’s not lose hope. Again, we are all young adults  in this newborn world. Let’s grow together with the medium. —CONTRIBUTED

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TAGS: Social Media, Year of the Youth, Youth
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