The Malta Independent 21 April 2024, Sunday
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TMID Editorial: The social media factor

Saturday, 17 February 2024, 11:30 Last update: about 3 months ago

The more time passes, the more people seem to become dependent on social media.

One can see so many walking with their mobile phones in their hand, scrolling up and down to check what is taking place, oblivious to the surroundings. It’s not the first time that they narrowly avoid accidents, given their concentration while they are looking down to their phone.

It also happens often that, in restaurants, rather than having a conversation with the person/s sitting around the same table, people are again seen with mobile phones in their hands, checking what is being posted on the social media instead of listening to what is being said by those next to them.

It is ironic that we speak so much about privacy these days, and yet there are people whose lives are there for all to see on the social media.

It is a sad story, indeed. While we can all acknowledge the importance of staying connected, and of remaining in touch with people we know and others we follow, we have taken this to the extreme – many “prefer” the social media for their interactions rather than face-to-face communication.

It is safe to say that social media has taken over much of our lives. It is a form of addiction when one is not able to put the phone down. And it is an addiction that, like all others, needs to be addressed.

When a phone pings with a message or an email, one does not need to frantically see what has come in. It can wait, especially if one is with other people around. It is, to say it outright, quite rude to give more importance to a message or an email when in the company of others.

Maybe this is a subject that should also be tackled in our civics lessons at school. Today, children who are given their first mobile phone are becoming younger and younger – in many cases, it is the parents who hand out the gift, either to keep their children quiet, or else to overcome the pressure that the children themselves put on the parents, given that most of their peers already have one. Yet it is often the case that children are not taught about the dangers they could come across – and also the addiction they could fall into unless they are careful.

There’s another bad side to the social media – and this is that it gives a wide platform for insults and offences to be traded. Hate speech has unfortunately seen a surge and it is good to see that the law courts are taking the matter seriously. While we will always defend the right to free speech, there are limits to everything.

More than this, when threats are made on the social media, these should be taken seriously – and it is clear that each time the courts have been called in to deal with such situations, they have not treated them lightly.

Going back to pre-social media days is impossible, so the next best thing is to not to allow it to take precedence over our lives.

 

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