Editorial: Think before you click

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

THERE had been a few campaigns reminding people to always think and think hard before clicking on that button and sending a thought, a video, or a photo away into the virtual world of social networks.

But many still forget. Many do not heed.

The incident last week involving the Davao City Council, Vice Mayor Paolo Z. Duterte and later Davao City Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte and an event organizer is but a reminder. Think and think hard before you click.


The world in front of your computer or smartphone may seem like a very cozy corner with just you and your thoughts and a few friends around you, but it isn’t. It’s a very cozy corner with you and your thoughts and some friends around, and a million others looking and listening in with one, two, or even a hundred (depending on the type of friends and social circles you mingle with, or your criteria for requesting and accepting friends) just very willing to bring your story to someone who will take offense.

But much more than us, the adults, the reminder should be repeated over and over again to the young, and may we add, parents.

With the big vast world in front of us, without us fully realizing it yet, the greatest concern should be in how our children are using these equipment to reach out to the world, and what are they reaching out to.

Indeed, with all these technological advances, parenting and providing proper guidance becomes more tedious. But it’s a challenge that all of us have to take. The challenge of restraint. Restraint in how we hit out at people, restraint in our use of words, restraint in what we show of our bodies, restraint in what we reveal of our thoughts and of our lives.

These were basic lessons before. Parents and grandparents of the present-day adults were repeatedly told on how to conduct themselves in public complete with warning glares and threats of a teeny-tiny painful pinch.

With children now having access to all media, reality shows included, they learn all kinds of cusswords even as parents themselves don’t use them; they see behaviors most inappropriate and think by behaving such, they are just liberating themselves; and yes, there is this freedom of expression that can easily be used to malign or to mock. There are a lot of other undesirable things anyone can learn in the virtual world, right within the fingertips of everyone whether they had the best upbringing or not.

Restraint is the word, and we can avoid a lot of troubles if we put that in our daily vocabulary. We’re not saying you have to gag yourself, we’re just saying that in any society, there are acceptable and unacceptable norms. Now, if you can’t live by those norms, then don’t broadcast your thoughts or your images to the general public in a mass media – even if you think they are your friends. Honestly, kids, take away the internet and you will never be able to maintain constant communication and links with more than a hundred friends, much more the thousands or near thousands that you broadcast your thoughts to every day. Ergo, that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that you update every minute of your life? That is much like living in front of the cameras that is broadcast worldwide. Privacy settings are nothing but settings put there to make you feel in control, when actually you are not. The best security setting will still be, if you don’t want it known, then don’t put it out there.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on July 21, 2014.


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