“Likes” and “Shares” are what make the world go round. While there are those who “like” working to make the world a better place, and those who “share” their talents and skills with others, sometimes people are more invested in the “likes” and “shares” of the digital world. But even if social media gets a bad rep for negatively affecting the self-esteem and mental health of the youth today, we can change that and turn the Internet into a friendlier and more positive platform to be on.
- If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Don’t Say Anything At All
Don’t you hate it when bullies leave mean and unnecessary comments on posts? Then don’t be one of those people. Just because you cringed at your classmate’s video of her singing, or if someone posts an unflattering photo, you don’t have the right to criticize them for it. If you were close friends with the person, maybe you could send a PM or private message suggesting that maybe it wasn’t a good idea to make that post, especially if it was inappropriate. (S/he might even thank you for letting her/him know.) But publicly criticizing anyone by posting a mean comment is unacceptable. If you wouldn’t say something to a person’s face, don’t say it online either.
- Don’t (Hesitate to) Press the Button
Because of online anonymity, people are free to browse the internet within the privacy of their own devices without being tracked or followed. However, this can be very dangerous when “internet trolls” or bullies and haters take advantage of this. They can start harassing netizens without the fear of getting caught or even go so far as to stalk or threaten them. If you are in a position where you don’t feel safe online, the “Report” button is there to have your back. By reporting a disturbing comment, post, or person, the inappropriate content could be removed from the internet, and the user may even be banned from certain sites. Get rid of one more toxic user on the internet, and do your part to protect other netizens from harassment online.
- No Call-Outs
Admit it. It’s sometimes really fun to watch the drama unfold in front of us. But actually being in a public online call-out is horrible. Imagine all these people on the internet finding out about a mistake you made or assuming that you did something bad because of what someone else posted. I know too many people who were called out online for something that they may or may not have done and then received floods of mean comments. Do not participate in call-outs, since it will do nothing to fix the mistake a person made or didn’t even didn’t make! When there’s an incident with someone, act like a mature human being and confront this person face to face in private instead of dragging your Facebook friends into creating drama.
- Stand Up for People (and Yourself)
If you see someone getting bullied, harassed, or called out, don’t be a passive witness. Instead, be an example and stand up for them. Support those who are feeling depressed and alone, and encourage them to stand up for themselves as well. And while you’re at it, empower and defend yourself, too. Don’t resort to harsh language or cheap tactics, because you should be the example of how we should act online. Be calm, rational, courteous, and respectful when you stand up to bullies, and prove to them that not everything we do online has to involve drama, curse words, and exclamation points.
Be a force for change and promote positivity online. The internet is our generation’s second world, and we must work to make it a much more positive place, not just for our generation, but for the generations to come.