“This happened a few months ago…. A friend of mine slept over my house and asked to use my cell phone. I gave it to her and she began texting someone. I took back my phone and began texting whoever it was, thinking it was a guy. But no, it was some girl. We began fighting through texts and she began calling me some nasty names. I felt so horrible I wanted to kill myself after what the girl said to me.”
This is the story of a 13 year old girl from Pennsylvania in the United States, as reported by CyberBullying Research Centre. Her story certainly isn’t an isolated case. There are a lot of people who have been made to regret being alive because of what had been said to them one way or the other.
A 2016 research by the organisation reveals that technology has made verbal abuse rather common place and easy. “Cell phones and other mobile devices continue to be the most popular technology utilised by adolescents with the top four reported weekly activities involving their use. Facebook remains the most frequently cited social media platform used on a weekly basis, but Instagram and Snapchat are increasing in popularity.”
You certainly can relate to this. On a typical day, if you are a “social media person,” you are likely to have an infraction with one person or the other over something they don’t understand or disagree with you on. And this often results in abuse: verbal abuse.
The word verbal relates to words in the realm of communication. So verbal can be written or spoken communication, so far as words are concerned. Thus, words, through whatever medium, when used to attack continuously or intensely, may be termed verbal abuse. In our social media space, verbal abuse or bullying, as some refer to it, has become rather commonplace, purely on the grounds of disagreements or sharing varying views.
If you log on to Facebook, and the “What’s on your mind…?” question stares you in the face, just like a gun heavily cocked, placed in your hands, you decide how you release the trigger. In that process either you do test-firing without any target, or you aim at a target, or simply decide to lay down the arm.
When Twitter also serves you with the “What’s happening” question, the same scenario comes to play. What you do; the decision you take sums up who you become, or what people perceive you to be, or what people want you to be.
It is annoying for many when people decide to read meanings into their posts, or when people try to impugn their own meanings into the “What’s on your mind…?” People argue that it is their personal space, and rightly so, so people can’t just come and “mess” with their thoughts.
I have had friends and followers who demand I interpret certain posts I make. I always refuse. If they bring their own meanings and deductions to bear, I leave them like that. “That’s their thinking; that’s their level,” I always tell myself.
That strategy, sometimes works because it saves me, and a lot of people who may be like me, from unnecessary arguments, which often lead to name-calling and shade-throwing just because you do not think or share in their beliefs.
“Argument is a two way communication, and opinion is perception of a particular person or thing. Both may be logical or illogical. Mostly, arguments are based on opinions but sometimes people make their opinions after arguments. Both are interrelated and equally important.”
I once read the above statement somewhere online; and how I wish social media users understood the essence of having a cohort of friends who, in all disagreements or agreements, learn and improve on their thought levels, devoid of emotions.
If you are on social media, and you want everybody to share in what you believe in, and think as you do, then I believe there is a problem somewhere. That is the ideal thing by the way, but it is practically impossible.
Some have said, a number of social media persons, do not have a mind of their own: an independent opinion, but they have counter opinions for what others believe in, or think are right!
Social media has become one of the blessings of this generation. It serves us with everything we can, to have a fulfilling life, economically and socially. That’s why some of us look beyond just opinion sharing, to stimulating intellectual discourse and influencing the information “have-nots” in as many ways as possible.
But there is always that quagmire: what extent can one go? This certainly leaves many social media users in a fix: should I set an agenda? Should I have an opinion? Should I be myself? Should I be what my friends and followers want me to be?
These questions plague people’s thoughts daily. And in all that, whether the life you live on social media is a reflection of you, it boils down to the choices we make. After all, it is said that character is the making of a choice!
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