It’s up to us

Badrya Darwish

Social media has overtaken our lives. It’s hijacking our privacies. Now it’s the fashion or the norm, you could say, for people not to listen to the news on the radio or to read it from official sources or respected publications. Instead, what we are paying attention to is social media with all its forms and platforms – be it Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. I don’t know what they will invent next.

The problem is that how true and reliable is the information barraging us on these media? You don’t even have to carry a computer – the smartphone in my hand has it all 24/7 wherever you are – be it in the sky or on the ground, in Britain or South Africa. But it’s littered with fake news, with malicious gossip and stories that aren’t sourced or credited – without respect for humanity, justice, individual rights or people’s reputations.

Yesterday I saw on social media that someone bombed the North Korean capital’s airport. I rushed to check this information and confirm it, only find it’s a hoax – another fake news report spreading across social media. At least in the North Korean hoax, it was not a matter of destroying a family’s or some individual’s reputation. But in other cases, rumors and gossip are spread as if they are fact and can ruin people’s lives for years. Not only the individual’s alone, but that of his family, his wife, his sons, his daughters, his tribe. How fair and just is this? Would any of us want this to happen to us?

Don’t get me wrong. There are instances where the nation should know hidden information and sometimes whistleblowers save the nation. But these instances are typically not malicious and they do not spread rumors through tweets or Insta posts. Instead, file real cases with documentation and enough evidence before the authorities. Many of them are people who are highly ranked and their conscience cannot support what they know to be wrong.

This is based on malicious, individual grudges and wars of interests. I know it’s difficult to control. But we can start with ourselves. Don’t spread, share or forward gossip and rumors. Maybe we cannot bring to justice those who start malicious rumors, because it’s very difficult to know the source. But we can stop social media from overtaking our society by refusing to play their game. Social media is a double-edged sword – it can be a force for good but also a force of evil. And usually in human affairs, the force of evil is stronger. But the human being is very intelligent and he/she can choose to make that sword a force for good. It’s up to us.

By Badrya Darwish

This article was published on 16/04/2017