IT is distressing and heart-breaking to read the news of the teenage girl in Sarawak who leapt to her death after 69% of respondents in a poll she had conducted on her Instagram account recommended that she chose “D”, which was taken to mean die, instead of L (live).
How could and why did her online friends condone her suicidal tendency? If these “friends” had not been hiding behind their mobile screens, I am sure the same 69% of them would not have asked her to choose death.
We learn as we grow how to behave and converse rationally and with respect. So why do many of us behave irrationally when we are online?
Racist and rude remarks seem to be widespread on Facebook. But I trust we Malaysians in real life are not like that, as we are highly respectful of other cultures and religions.
Recently, a celebrity businessman posted a video of his daughter crying after being caned for removing her hijab. Following public backlash over the humiliating scene, the businessman warned Malaysians to “mind their own business”.
This type of video is an emerging trend of parents publicly shaming their children on social media. While I agree that parents have every right to use their own ways to discipline and educate their children, these “advice-for-other-parents” type of videos essentially amount to cyberbullying. Worse, the videos will be permanently online even if efforts are taken to remove them later.
Undeniably, social media plays a big part in our lives but we must draw the line between what is right and wrong on these platforms. Of course, social media is not the source of all of our social ills. However, with better digital intelligence, we can improve our social media habits and be more mindful of the consequences of our words online.