READER LETTER | Most people lack net etiquette on social media

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Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/NENETUS

The advent of the internet has brought the world and the whole of humanity closer in many ways, in what has been termed the global village.

In many ways, it has adversely affected human behaviour and personal interaction that creates a layer of distance that encourages people to shed their inhibitions and act differently than they would during comparable face-to-face encounters.

In many instances, the internet has become a platform where poor social habits are on display because the relaxed rules in cyberspace do not mesh with social expectations in the real world. It has become an instrument where on many occasions people sound curt, superficial, insensitive or even cruel.

Cyberbullying in a global domain has led to digital communication abuses discarding and demolishing net etiquette or what the experts call "netiquette". Kindness and civility are non-existent as behavioural patterns within the realms of the global village.

Research clearly indicates that with the spread of the internet, we are becoming less social. It is an undeniable fact that within the last decade, technology has profoundly shifted the nature of human communications. We have become “anti-social”, glued to our devices and lacking interpersonal skills.

Social media is making us less social when used to compare oneself to others, contributing to higher levels of loneliness and lower levels of well-being among frequent users.

It is an established fact that internet and its numerous platforms are associated with declines in participants communication with family members in the household, declines in the size of their social circle and increases in their depression and loneliness, resulting in many levels of unkindness and aggressive behaviour.

While we are focused on our internet devices, we forget our manners. When we act unkindly online it can lead to hostile unfriendly and unkind environments. The internet has drastically changed human behaviour, because online, you can be anyone you want to be. Whether it’s real or not. Almost like a game, it is a way for many to escape their real life.

Many people act differently online because they do not get the opportunity to say or do things in real life because they are afraid of doing it in real life. Unkind behaviour, abuse and threats are all the byproducts of the internet age; social media has changed the trajectory of humanity’s relationship with fellow beings, unkindness has been the most profound change.

Farouk Araie, Benoni

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