As young people living in the ‘digital age’, or whichever other name adults often seem to come up with, I think most of us have had a lecture, or a conversation about Internet and social media safety. While it might get old after a while, we should all always be thinking about the idea behind it. Technology is really amazing, and I would be one of the first people to back that statement up. Not only is it convenient, but it offers so much potential to build connections. It’s when tech is used to disconnect, or when we start to hide behind it, that it starts becoming a problem.
For instance, I’ve been in situations when the easy thing way out is to communicate through a device. While this might be a good option in some situations, and is always a handy solution, typing something leaves lots to be desired. Apologizing in person, spending time just being quiet with someone else, or talking things through in a neutral environment often end up being better for everyone in the long run. Technology might offer a safer space for people (myself included) who are shy, but it’s so much easier to tell if the other person is listening, and whether or not they mean what they’re saying, when there isn’t an app between you.
Besides which, we’ve all seen the destruction and hate that can stem from just a few trolls. I’m all for offering my opinion online (obviously), but it’s when that opinion is so controversial in one’s daily life that it takes anonymous tweets to share it, that technological input is dangerous. Not to say that individuals whose everyday environments inhibit who they really are, can’t connect with others in the digital sphere, it’s just that like with anything, talking and posting and sharing online requires common sense. If you’re not sure whether something is appropriate to mention online, just ask someone in person about it. If they react negatively, then you have your answer. Likewise, before you post something, just think for a minute. If the content might be disrespectful to a particular person, or group of people, hold off. Even if it’s a joke, it’s always much harder to tell when you can’t see the other person’s face. If the content might offend someone (within reason), hold off.
On the other hand, don’t let this stop you from using social media, and the Internet. It’s so much easier to finalize plans, get people onboard for a project, or invite friends to an event with the help of technology. Please, share your creations, participate in discussion, support others, and foster community. Just do so with respect, and with a buffer of a few seconds. It could make all the difference.
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Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the victims of the ambulance and military attacks in Kabul. We send love, strength and prayers for you in this time of loss. We also stand in solidarity with the Rohingya people, some of whom will be forced into repatriation back to Myanmar. We hope that the leaders of the countries involved will think, act and react with kindness, empathy and a sense of justice going forward, and we pledge to do the same. We pledge to be mindful of events occurring, to be grateful for our safety, to share the stories of our fellow humans, and take action wherever we can to prevent further crises from occurring.