The invention of the internet has revolutionized the way humans interact with each other in the 21st century’s digital environment or cyberspace. As of now, over 4 billion people in the world are active internet users and 3.3 billion are social media users. China, India and the United States rank ahead all other countries in terms of internet users. Apart from the various benefits and advantages which the internet boom has brought into our lives, it has also led to an influx of tremendous hate and negativity in human interactions, especially through the explosion of social media platforms….writes Gurjot S Kaler
Just open any social media place of interaction like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc, and one invariably comes across hordes of negative comments bordering on the vitriolic abuse. The vituperative language which is used on the internet to castigate, demean and vilify others cannot be termed as respectful or civilized by any standards of morality or rationality in a society. Internet has transformed the present generation of humans into an age of rage. If one opens the comments section on any videos posted on YouTube or pictures on Facebook, Instagram etc, the kind of language used smacks of utter hatred, animosity and disdain. It has become a trend to defame and destroy people’s reputations, especially the celebrities and sully the brand value of various companies’ products on social media.
Against such malicious backdrop of spread of negativity on social media, it actually needs to be analyzed as to why people behave rudely and scornfully on internet. The number one reason related to the vicious spewing of venomous, hatred-laced comments on social media can be attributed to the personal frustration, insecurities, anger, depression and anxieties of those who post such negative comments. Secondly, the factor of anonymity and lack of traceability or accountability on internet also proves to be a weapon in the hands of social media trollers who, out of sadistic pleasure, like to operate under the garb of concealment of their real identities by using various kinds of fake, dummy accounts. People on social media are routinely subjected to needless criticism and blame-game by such internet trollers for the way they look, eat, live and indulge in work of living. In fact, these days, various kinds of hate threats or intimidation tactics are also being used on social media in terms of obnoxious comments and sleazy videos to bully the users, and instigate the vulnerable feelings of religion, caste, race, gender, region in order to polarize/divide the various communities in society, disrupt the stability and peace and spark hatred-based communal wars or conflicts of unimaginable proportions. Various countries now-a-days are framing new laws to tackle such trends of hate on internet. For example, a new internet regulation law has been recently enacted in Germany, named ‘NetzDG’ that will force social media sites to delete offensive content and clamp down on hate speech and illegal content on internet.
It has been lately discovered that social media platforms have become virtual battlefields for the people and are now starting to affect their overall peace of mind in life. Therefore, it is a need of the hour to discuss the ways in which we can avoid the detrimental effects of internet and avoid being dragged into the pitfalls of internet negativity.
The first thing to realize is the fact that internet is full of haters and trollers and hence, the best way is to avoid giving a reply and thus, feeding the trolls. Internet trolls can be anonymous posters, or even people who are part of your social network. The best thing to do if you are dealing with a troll is to avoid giving that person the attention they are seeking. Don’t respond to the person in any way, whether you are going to say something positive, negative, or neutral. Responding (or feeding) the trolls will only cause that person to feel noticed and thus, encourage him to continue his act of posting abusive comments. So, just ignore the comment and move on with your day.
The second way is to regularly delete any type of unhealthy comments which tend to unnecessarily target a user personally and block such unwanted troller accounts from commenting or viewing your social media accounts. Though we don’t have full control over what people say, we can block nasty people and hide hateful comments. But rather than block and hide with energy of resentment, we need to forgive them first. Forgiveness helps us detach from the negative energy cord that can live even through the Twitter-sphere or the facebook universe. Energy is in everything. If we don’t clean up our energy through forgiveness, we’ll continue to carry negativity. It is good to be an open-minded person and have rational opinions and discussions on various issues in life but it is also completely unacceptable to be at the receiving end of endless brickbats and poisoned hate-speeches from unknown strangers or known friends or acquaintances over trivial matters. There’s no reason to let negative comments linger. Simply forgive and delete. If things go out of hand and such haters start issuing personal threats of danger to life and property in real life too, then, one should not waste time in reporting about such matters to the cyber police officers in one’s area.
The third way is to be positive and practice the art of meditation in real life, indulge in human interactions in flesh and blood and abstain from any kind of online activity for some time, especially when the stress levels of internet negativity get too much to handle. Sometimes taking a cyber break from being online is the best way to deal with mean comments on the internet.
We should remember that the cyber age of internet is ultimately powered by people, for people. Behind every online comment, article, e-book, video, website, and social media profile, is a human being. Despite being located in different parts of the world, we are somehow miraculously connected, all thanks to the power of the web. Therefore, let us all work hand-in-hand to support each other in our life’s digital journey. Due personal precautions and restraint must be exercised by the users to avoid spreading negativity and hatred on internet. At the same time, the government and social media platforms must also effectively use their legal power to regulate the online behavior of netizens and frame stringent laws and policies to prevent internet from spiraling downwards into the darkness of negativity. To ensure that internet remains a boon and does not become a bane is actually the responsibility of every netizen.