Before I proceed, I want to tell you what social media means to me. I imagine social media as one big hall with millions of people engaged in incoherent conversations about various issues with everyone shouting and hoping to be heard. In these conversations, some people are providing relevant information while others are exposing their ignorance. Most people in the hall just want to be heard though they are not making any relevant arguments.
During the chaos, one person ‘slips’ and says something which is deemed inappropriate by others. Ripple style, everybody’s attention is drawn to that person, leading to a backlash. Some are in support of the person who slipped, others are extremely against the person, while the rest do not really care. The trolling gets hot and unapologetic. A troll is an internet slang which is used to describe people’s reactions such as unpleasant comments passed on someone when people are upset with something they did online. This is mostly consistent for a period and includes a lot of attack and counterattack.
Recent cases of online trolls and abuse are triggered by comments people make about certain subjects which are deemed insensitive and inappropriate. Most of these comments are fuelled from the opinions of people on certain subjects, misguided speech, ignorance, arrogance and a lot of other factors. There are obviously lots of factors that account for the content people post on social media.
The big question is, how can you protect yourself from being a subject of social media trolls?
I describe social media as a slippery street because one does not know when they may slip and get trolled. With the evolution of social media, anybody can easily become a victim of trolls and abuse.
As an active social media user who has witnessed the trolling of personalities including Moesha Buduong, Manasseh Azure Awuni and recently Waris Abdul Umaru, the Comedian, I certainly would not want to slip and become a victim of internet trolling.
While victims of internet trolling are left at the mercy of social media, it may be tempting to join in and take them to the gutters too, however it serves as a reminder for all of us to ‘behave’ and not take how we position ourselves on social media for granted.
I think there are five things that everyone needs to think of before putting up a post on social media to prevent themselves from getting trolled unnecessarily.
- Reflect on what you want to write on social media before you click ‘post’ or ‘publish’
- Be careful about grammatical errors
- Make sure there are no human rights violations in your post
- Do not post sensitive content and do not insult people
- Recognise that not everybody will share in your opinions
The above will definitely not prevent you from getting trolled but will serve as a shield thereby minimizing your exposure to trolls.
Cyber bullying is becoming more and more common and social media has been reported to be a source of depression in some cases. Therefore, it is important for social media users to be mindful of how often they use social media and the image they project on such platforms.
So, next time you want to post something on social media, be mindful of how slippery the streets of social media can get.