The Internet has truly grown to become a tricky place — far from the simple Google searching or Facebook poking we simply used to do a decade ago, the Internet has since become a second home for many of us. And with the continuous growth of the online space came the inevitable rapid growth of the online population. And like any vastly-populated city, it can be difficult to navigate the very intricacies of this space, but there are a few substantial guidelines that we can all agree and rely on.
Here are a few easy ways to make the Internet a better place for everyone this 2019:
Learn to identify fake news
Fake news — there was once upon a time when the concept was one that stupefied us all (what did “fake news” even mean? Wasn’t the very phrase contradictory in itself?) but in the past few recent years — most notably in 2016 — the issue rose to one of national importance. Suddenly, fake news was everywhere, particularly on Facebook and other prominent sites of social media, and many have since fallen victim. One way to not be part of that demographic is by educating yourself to distinguish between verified and false information. Harvard University lists down four simple ways to determine fake news: checking the publisher’s credibility; paying attention to the story’s quality and timeliness; checking the story’s sources and citations; and using fact-checking websites such as FactCheck.org or International Fact-Checking Network.
That being said, don’t share fake news
Obviously, with learning to identify fake news comes learning not to share fake news on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and the like are tricky things, what with their incredibly easy ways of sharing content with friends. Information found on such social media sites significantly vary — each time you open your NewsFeed or timeline brings a mixed bag of stories, both credible and fake, shared by anyone and everyone in your online community. As a contributor of that very community, do everyone a favor and hide, block, and simply don’t share any fake news you may encounter. It may not seem like a massive deal, but you will have contributed to the betterment of online society.
Communicate with people online as you would IRL
It can be easy to forget that behind those avatars and profile pictures online is a very real person — therefore making attacking and using hateful speech much easier than it is in real life. But the online world is, indeed, one populated by very real people, and as such interactions in the online realm should remain the same as it is in the concrete, tangible world. Sure, the internet has made talking to strangers easier than it ever has been, as it has connecting with prominent personalities — celebrities and world leaders, and the like. But at the very core remains mere human beings merely in a different environment. At the end of the day, the centuries-old adage still rings true: treat other people the way you would want to be treated.
Be responsible with your opinions!
If there’s one thing always present in every person’s NewsFeed, it would probably be the Political Opinions Post — a usually long-winded, sometimes brash, usually rant-like post detailing the user’s personal opinions on a prominent political figure or issue. Inherently, technically, there’s nothing particularly wrong in posting your opinions online — your profiles, after all, are your own property, and you have every right and freedom to post your own thoughts and opinions. But with freedom, however, comes one significant, but widely-forgotten detail — responsibility. What must be remembered — and not only in the online and social media world — is that every person has a different opinion, and it’s impossible to have everyone agree on yours. Therefore, post your opinions online if you wish, but also be prepared to take responsibility for the aftermath, and be courteous in interacting with those who react.
And finally, please, please, don’t be a troll
You’ve likely heard of them, or perhaps, even heard from them. Trolls are perhaps one of the worst — if not the worst — to come out of the proliferation of the Internet, and are monikered as such due to their competence in feeding off of online hate for their own entertainment. Whether it is harassing people online or posting mocking comments, trolls have no other agenda than to breed negativity, which we really don’t need more of.
So here’s to cleansing this new year of toxicity, and building a better space for ourselves — and those around us — in the online realm. Doing so will truly, honestly, make the real world a much better space, too.
All images are taken from Pexels.