Social media is a powerful tool. It can make or break us, depending on how we use it. In today’s world of social media, a nation doesn’t have to be hit by a missile to fall apart. A few impatient, impetuous, presumptuous, judgmental, brash social media messiahs and a gullible lot are enough to bring it down like a house of card.

We have benefited immensely from social media. But we have also misused and abused it, knowingly or inadvertently, causing social disruptions as we have witnessed in the past few months.

The Internet, and now the social media, is a well-thought decision of our beloved Kings, a decision they took putting a lot of trust in their subjects – a trust that each one of us will draw upon this important resource wisely and for the benefit of ourselves and the future of our nation.

A lot of preparation has gone into bringing it to the level it is now. And works are currently underway to make it even better. But we must also appreciate that a lot has been left to our own discretion when it comes to its use – free of censorship and even regulation unlike some countries. This is possible only because of their constant trust in us.

The ball is in our court. We have a huge responsibility to honour that sacred Trust. We have a critical role to play in this because social media is pretty much what we choose to write or how we choose to express ourselves. Social media is, therefore, an area where regulations have only a symbolic meaning. There is virtually no way social media misuse can be prevented unless we start being true to ourselves and act wisely in accordance with the aspirations of the Trust.

The growth of social media in our country has been quick, but the use of it unfortunately leaves a lot to be desired. Our experience with it so far has, for most part, been about rumour-mongering, scare-mongering, and the rampant illegal, non-consensual sharing of lewd materials. This is not only a huge waste by which we are all complicit in squandering a precious resource, but something that is also dangerously close to sacrilege. Perhaps this is bearing out about the apprehension our beloved Kings have long had in their minds when they took the decision.

In the process, we have engendered a social media culture that has numbed us against the sensibilities of our own folks, let alone meeting the aspirations of the Trust. Such a culture is not only counterproductive to what we can achieve collectively but it is a national shame.

One aspect of that culture that glaringly stands out is a social media trend that really hasn’t helped the social part of it – the rush to be the first to pick holes in, without proper fact check, not least on key issues that matter to us as a nation. In that rush, we disable our ability to get up on our soapbox in a just and fair manner, often leading to bum steer.

We are apt to be swayed by what we read and see on social media, precisely because sometimes we do behave like sheep. In such a situation, it behooves us to stand out and see whether the opinion that is doing the round is reasonable, fair, or whether we can get the exact measure of it.

Such temptations are understandable, but what about the inaccurate social media scoops creating a groundswell of opposition to a well-thought act and the exploitation of social media platforms for abuse? Those who take part in the ensuing hullabaloo will not have the patience to sort out all what they read or see, or give due consideration to the other side of the story.

When a trend like this thrives on social media it has the potential of muffling the correct message, resulting in a communication shambles. The result is a largely misinformed society, devolving into dangerous confusions – yet another betrayal of the Trust.

We need to discourage such social media trends, as best as we can.

We could start by reinforcing some of our better impulses. We should explore the easy possibility to form our opinion based on our own careful judgment based on all available facts, and not on rabble-rousing news feeds or emotional outbursts. We should understand that precipitous scoops or rabble-rousing feeds have the dangerous potential to disgorge unfounded opinions stirring a pointless debate and an endless wrangle.

The canons of fairness and justice that we so desperately seek in others have to start within each one of us, and that includes the manner in which we react or respond to situations in the social media and the just use of the social media itself. And sometimes all it takes is a bit of patience.

Perhaps, some thoughts on this can help us go a long way in honouring that sacred Trust.

Contributed by 

Dorji Tshering

Canberra, Australia