Civility and Restraint on Social Media

After bearing the burden for a month, I am getting this thought off my chest now.

Anyone else thinks we are becoming more hostile towards each other due to this increasing culture of chats, watsapp and texts, which is limiting (or rather putting an end to) face-to-face conversations unless absolutely necessary? I have certainly started feeling this way due to a few recent happenings.

Sometime back, I received a few long mean watsapp messages, or rather virtual letters, from my flatmate where she recounted her frustration over some of my actions. I was surprised by the malicious language she used because we had been quite friendly with each other, had dinner together and spoke about our lives almost on a daily basis. Of course we dint like a few of each others quirks but there was never an ill intent. Bear in mind that we talk at home almost daily!

I read the messages multiple times and could only conclude that they were sent in a fit of anger or irritation over something else. They weren’t thought through. My anger was building up as I was reading through them line by line. They were offensive and disrespectful, to say the least. Even though she wasn’t in front of me, I could sense the malice in those words. Of course I could be wrong, couldn’t I? And that’s my point!

Wouldnt it have been better if she discussed these things bothering her personally with me? I am sure it would have hurt me less. I always deliberately bring it up multiple times with all my flatmates and encourage honest conversations so that we can avoid unnecessary drama and speculation.

But these days, people find it easier to send hateful messages rather than face the person and confront or engage in a debate. Because it looks convenient at the time. There is nobody looking them in the eye and judging. But do people really think sending an angry text message hiding behind virtual media is an act of bravery? Really? Are we becoming so delusional? If anything else, its cowardice! And it holds grave repercussions.

And then there are those who think bringing down one another on social media platforms will actually change the world’s opinion! It just proves that you have the IQ of a peanut and you don’t have enough sense or maturity to engage in a discussion or bring some quality thought to the table.

When you talk to a person face-to-face, you empathise better and respond in a more dignified manner. It gives you time to form coherent thoughts and reduces the chances of saying something that you might regret later. Offline conversations miss out on the tone and the expression of the person conveying the message. They eliminate any restraint or filter you might have. You feel angry, the person is not around, there is nothing stopping you from insulting him/her through a quick message. Had that option not been there, you would have waited until the person was in front of you and most times, by then your anger would have subsided.

I hope we all grow up and use our brains a little more. Hiding behind screens and pretending to be bold or courageous doesn’t fool anyone, except yourself maybe. This is how we are loosing out on social etiquettes and mutual respect. This is like going back in time, forgetting civilization and behaving like savages.

We really need to discourage this culture and make people (yes, force people if we have to) have more personal conversations or we would end up fighting a very brutal and impersonal virtual media war. And as history has proven time and again, there are no winners in a war.

Also, words stay!

The next time you feel like barraging someone with an angry tweet or comment, just take a deep breath, count till 10 and give it a thought if doing this would really achieve anything other than spreading hatred.

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