The prevalence of Internet of Things and growing digital literacy of the general population have allowed the Internet to become increasingly accessible to everyone.
Coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has forced people to connect online more than ever before, it is no wonder that social media usage has spiked in recent times.
However, social media is a tricky place. The lack of accountability required of its users, as well as the difficulties involved in enforcing community rules, result in people tending to be more irresponsible and uncivil online – without truly considering the repercussions of their actions.
Take, for example, swimmer Joseph Schooling at the Tokyo Olympics.
As he was unable to replicate his success in the previous edition of the Games, several people made harsh and uncouth comments about him. These included personal attacks and memes about his physique and poor performance, which were all in bad taste.
Similarly, many Singaporeans were dismissive of athlete Soh Rui Yong’s achievements and made disparaging remarks on his Facebook page when he became the first Singaporean to officially complete a 2.4km run under seven minutes.
When Soh decided to issue an open challenge to prove his naysayers wrong, he was once again under siege for allegedly lacking humility.
These should have been situations where our instincts as human beings would be to empathise or congratulate, but some Singaporeans have instead decided to cavil and lambast. We can do better.
Given the fluidity of the Covid-19 situation, key snippets from the multi-ministry task force briefings are often uploaded online.
A quick check on the comments section of such videos uploaded by The Straits Times shows several accounts ridiculing the task force, some even wishing ill upon its co-chairs.
While we are free to express our views, our way of communication on social media should be as calibrated as the way we communicate with others in person.
We can actively engage in discourse and give constructive criticism without being insensitive and discourteous. We can do better.
Let us then be gracious and responsible users of social media, so that we set a good example for our future generations, since social media is undoubtedly going to play an even bigger part of their lives compared with ours now.
We can do better.
Bryan Ong Liming