We must resist posting painful content online

Monday July 16 2018



Internet and its treats, especially the social media, is the century’s leading innovation. It has turned the world on its head in the way we socialise and work. As of June 2017, more than half of the world’s population had Internet access and the number is precipitously expanding.

Through the Internet anything we share online makes rounds around the Web in minutes. The content is curated forever and is findable on a few clicks.

Technology is two-edged. It can be used for the good of the society but is also being used to weather away the glue that stitches our society together.

Ailing magnate

Take for example the pictures doing round of an ailing prominent business magnate. A few people have taken pictures with him which are now being shared enthusiastically on multiple online channels. The reason those photographs are being circulated can’t be to rally people to pray for the frail businessman.

Some of the comments that accompany those pictures portray a society fat with envy — as if to show that even the rich also cry. How else can one interpret the reason behind posing for a picture with someone thinned by cancer and sending them out with unrestrained zeal?

We share pictures of fallen soldiers in the line of duty in Somalia and other volatile zones. These are men and women at the tip of the spear protecting our land and yet some among us have the temerity to feed communication channels with pictures of these men bruised or lifeless. Such acts are unethical and evil.

We should start hashtags that condemn the purveyors of such content and stop its circulation.

In the West, for example, there are former presidents, prime ministers, governors and high-ranking members of society of all stripes who are battling cancer, or slowed by senility or other conditions that befall mortals. However, we never see mean pictures and videos about them streaming on social media pipes like we do for our people.

Why would anyone draw satisfaction from taking a picture of an elderly man or woman wetting their pants or dress, then add some comic emojis and share without a tinge of remorse?

As a society, we owe it to ourselves to use tech tools in ethical ways. Maintaining privacy and confidentiality especially for the most susceptible is the least we can do for them. Exposing the sick; the old; the mentally disturbed; the children and even the poor is nothing more than sucking out the remaining iota of dignity — the only possession they are probably clinging on.

Anything to gain?

Before sharing any content, ask yourself: What do I stand to gain by sharing this content? How would I feel if someone I care for is on these pictures, videos, memes or text? By forwarding this content, am I responsible?