Press Freedom Day Celebration: Strengthening Democracy through Responsible Digital Citizenship
It’s clear to see that social media holds a great deal of influence over the Filipino people. As of 2018, the Philippines has around 76 million internet users, all of which are active on social media– hence, being consistently titled The Social Media Capital of The World. With these digital platforms being an open space for freedom of speech, Filipinos get to regularly exercise this right and share their thoughts and opinions online, especially in regards to the current political climate.
With many different opposing stances and beliefs, arguments happen frequently between internet users. So rampant that “unfriending” or unfollowing people has become a regular response to someone who has a different point of view. Then there are online trolls who have made it a habit to create fake accounts and write fake news just for the sake of getting a heated response from people for entertainment. And with heated debates can sometimes come bullying. When one party has run out of arguments, they turn to spread juvenile insults, and sometimes even death threats. If only it could be said that the negativity online only comes from when politics are involved. But these sour notes can come from virtually anywhere, caused by almost anything. On the internet, everyone feels bolder and fiercer to say whatever they like as long as they can hide behind the safety of a username. It can be easy to forget that the person you’re arguing with online is just another human being hiding behind a screen.
A Digital Citizen is any internet user who actively uses social media to converse with other users. And in order to be a responsible Digital Citizen, a user should always keep in mind that everyone they encounter online is just as human as they are. It’s easy to target other internet accounts, making each other believe that their stance is the right one. It’s easy to get carried away with the drama and even eventually be entertained by it. But every opinion has a basis. No one arrived at that conclusion out of nothing. To be a responsible Digital Citizens, we need to understand where the other person is coming from. And from understanding, we can learn from each other. The internet can already be cruel and unforgiving. Why should we add to that negativity?
All things considered, the internet is a powerful tool. It’s a convenient way to share news fast, and connect with different people to make relationships. We need to combat the negativity with good in order to make the web a safer place for everyone. Let’s spark positive change online by remaining empathetic to other people’s points of view, double-checking all sources before sharing news that seems questionable, and sharing stories that inspire people and creates an impact. Let’s help one another become responsible digital citizens.