Trial via Facebook – GUILTY?

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Judge, Jury & Executioner

By the power vested in me through my Facebook profile, I now pass judgement on your business, character, family, life & pretty much everything I like or don’t like about you.

Yes, the above statement appears harsh, but we all know the reality and how the trials are conducted in social media in the name of personal opinions or reviews. The power of social media is undeniable, it has given individuals and businesses globally a great way to reach the masses. The mum and dad small business owners, dance & music teachers, artists, event promoters, models, politicians, media, charities, NGOs, volunteers and an endless list of others are beneficiaries of social media. But on the other hand, it doesn’t take much for your competitor or a person who simply doesn’t like you to write a negative review about your business or even worse about your character and leave a long lasting effect to fight.

Social media intimidation and harassment, in the name of opinions or experiences, have ruined many good lives. I know some people who were scared or affected by these so-called Facebook trials. They have had to delete their profiles & pages and don’t engage in social media activities anymore. Unfortunately, it takes just a few posts and comments to ruin a small business which would have taken blood, sweat and soul of someone to build it from the ground. “Customers/clients” who are affected by a business instead of reaching out to the business or any authorities take to Facebook and other social media platforms to start a chain of blame and accusations. The business may or may not be even aware of the issue but the whole trial and judgement would have been completed in Facebook groups. If any business or organisation does any wrongdoing bring it to their attention, take it to the right authorities, please don’t pass judgement and prosecute them at will.

More concerning are personal attacks and character assassination that are increasing to astronomical levels. Friends who fall out or simply don’t agree with you or if you don’t support them on their viewpoint, you may end up in the receiving end of some negative posts about you in the name of raising questions. Generally when you make a post with your opinion, those who don’t agree have an option to ignore your post or debate in a healthy way, but few take it to an all new level and start fighting publicly and if you reply, most likely it will end up worsening for you. Some thrive on intimidating others and for this reason they are untouchables. Sadly nowadays “defamation, bullying & harassment” are commonly used terms. However, these are very subjective and fluid, and the truth is whether we agree or not everyone is subjected to it in some form or the other. These can have lasting effects and serious implications on one’s life, but who cares? Where are we headed?

One big learning for me on social media over the years is to avoid engaging with people who don’t interact respectfully. I used to reply or debate a lot earlier to make my point, to stand my ground, but found that it doesn’t help even remotely. It is better to delete / unfriend / block and move on, after all this is just Facebook, a tool for us to connect with friends and others not to disconnect from reality and ourselves.

A knife doesn’t know the pain or who it cuts, if it is used to cut others it can be used to cut us as well, so we have to be careful /mindful of the knife. Use it to create, not to cut or destroy. We need to consciously keep away from these negative posts and people who post such content. We should take a pledge not to spread negativity on anyone and shouldn’t be a participant in any negative posts. Defamation, harassment and slander are real, and people may/can take anyone who does these things to court if there are grounds for it. Everyone’s experiences are different, so don’t expect others to avoid a business or person because you don’t like them or don’t force your friends to pick a side. Your friends have the same freedom of choice like you do. The Mantra is to avoid and disengage from the self-appointed “Judge, Jury & Executioner” who conducts trials on others via Facebook or any social media to pass a guilty verdict and most importantly we shouldn’t become either of them.

By Karthik Arasu

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 and Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (up to age 25). More information about mental health please contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, headspace on (03) 9027 0100

 

(Karthik is a social and political activist, who has been involved with various initiatives for the multicultural community in Australia. He is currently the President of “Australia India Sports Council”.)

 

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