The Digital Age: Ways People Use Social Media

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Welcome to the 21st Century, the era where information spreads like the pollen in the air to anyone, anytime, anywhere. The “Digital Age” wherein media has re-shaped the way we live today, and how we will live in the future. One good example of how media has drastically changed mankind’s nature is through social media.

Social media is the main reason why more than 67 million Filipinos use the internet to connect to the cyber world. Everything’s in it nowadays: updates from your friends or the people you follow, news, games, buy-and- sell sites, and a lot more. However, the main function of social media remains: to connect with others. But, over time, Filipinos have found new ways to use social media. It is, after all, a multipurpose weapon. And as the time went by, Filipinos became more toxic in social media. Reading through my wall, here’s what I always see

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First off, posts used to bait likes and shares that use strong subjects. According to your like for Jesus, ignore for Satan post, if I kept scrolling, would I go to hell? What would happen to the child with leukemia when he gets one million likes? Would he be miraculously healed? Would I get filthy rich after I wake up if I share your post with piles of money? And I applaud those who continue to support these posts; seriously?

Second, sexually explicit posts. Yes, you do have freedom to express yourself, but you do know that perverted minds scattered about in the World Wide Web. Then you call out for respect? Do you know the dangers of exposing your body in a virtual public domain? No? Shame.

Third, people desperate to attain virtual fame. They are, most of the time, manufacturers of like bait and sexually explicit posts. One can get famous just by doing what they love to do; why the need to be obtrusive and annoying?

Fourth, people who start senseless arguments. They are usually the ones who don’t take effort into reading, let alone researching, so they depend on prima facie. Isn’t it a prerogative to know something on a topic before making an argument on it? Apparently, not. They just want to go to a battle unprepared. And if they’re on the losing side, they use ad hominem. The nerve! Hats off for their courage. And worst of all, people who lost their values. They hate. Despise. They pick on people. Bully. Make racist remarks. Laugh on gender. Thrash on other cultures. Ridicule on different beliefs.

Access to the internet is now a basic human right “to help exercise freedom of expression and opinion,” and we are enjoying it, sorely. To a point of abuse. Where did your netiquette go? Or is it inexistent? This is where media and information literacy comes in. That’s right, “literacy”, meaning competence and capacity. Did you know that harassment and extortion made online are now considered crimes? They are called cybercrime or computer-oriented crime, and are reputed for sanctions and penalty. Yes, you could spend some time in jail or pay not less than a hundred thousand pesos for that single click you did last night.

After all, one of the main functions of media and information is to educate, and so educate yourself. Please remember that the internet that made way for information to be relayed in different forms of media did not exist when your grandparents were at your age, or even your parents. It is a true privilege, a power rather. And as the old saying goes, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

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