Don't be a digital media slave

HOW do you differentiate present from history, facts from fiction, truth from lies and from being concerned to being wickedly spiteful, when you are fazed, faced with onslaught from digital media.

You get shelled with news that creates bad vibes and impressions, occasionally interspersed with news that really matters and you are left most hours of the day battling to discriminate between the needed and the needless.

To the extent that some of us would become numb by the time the real worthy one comes along and we have neither the inclination nor the time to open the message.

I have come to the conclusion that there are too many people in their prime whose only vocation is forwarding text messages, videos and voice clips. One could even earn handsomely from setting up a one-stop centre just to viral stuff on social media.

Information explosions and overloads are perennial problems, more than any help. Some originators of such content may have malicious intentions while others may want to dispense well-meaning information. The bigger issue is with the incurable "forwarders" who are obsessed with distributing without discriminating.

Of all the existing evils, I find WhatsApp the most abused and misused. Taking a most recent forward, we had news about Julia Gillard whose political statement during her tenure as the prime minister between 2010 and 2013 made happy headlines and earnest reading material.

The news binged on how Gillard decided to take a bold stand against a certain community which, if not presented in the right context, can be viewed as being racially biased.

Yet another YouTube clip was trending where a speaker was condemning a certain religion. I made a quick check with the prime minister's digital media team and they confirmed that the video was from a 2012 incident and that the speaker had since been reprimanded for his uncouth comments and suggestions.

If the speaker had incited racial discord, those who had been spreading the video around are also doing the same despicable thing. Two wrongs do not make a right.

The point I am making is, let us be different, let us do things responsibly. We do not have to be the average Joes and Janes, we could rise above mediocracy and make the world a better place to live in.

In this context, I also take offence at individuals who show their heroism by secretly video-recording people and their acts, and posting them on social media without any context to the video.

One such video is about an obtrusive and intrusive account of a man who had secretly photographed a woman at the airport where in front of her was her child placed on the floor on a blanket. The mother, as she was assumed to be, was on her phone and netizens immediately took to condemning her act as being cruel, uncaring etc.

The mother of two who had suffered digital ostracisation came out on the same platform with her story. She had been stranded at the airport for 20 hours or so and how tiresome it can be holding the baby for hours is not difficult to discern. She was making calls to her husband updating him on the delay when the irresponsible individual must have captured the moment. There is a saying, do not believe what you see or hear, always probe and investigate, which justifies the need to go a step further to verify before posting.

Another funny video titled, "A Modern Dating Horror Story", just surfaced where a woman finds a potential suitor for marriage and is horrified to learn that he is without any digital footprint, i.e. he has no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Myspace etc and he uses the kind of phone that Gen-Ys never knew existed.
The woman and her friends run around checking him out and finally decide he is "not real" because he has chosen not to exist in the virtual domain.
Life is a series of oxymora and paradoxes, but this is a classic one and supersedes all others. Hence, beware the tell-tale signs of you becoming a slave to the digital media and do the necessary to stay real.

Comments: letters@thesundaily.com