How to be a good netizen?

How to be a good netizen? A world within a world. Rohan wakes up, feeling irritated. He got into a huge fight with someone on Facebook last night. Laying on the bed, Rohan decides to scroll through Facebook. He notices a lot of people sharing their achievements. This only pisses him off. He says to himself, “Geez, what a bunch of showoffs. Pretentious people”. He doesn’t seem to find interest in anything. Instead, he ends up arguing with a bunch of strangers and hurling slangs at them when he couldn’t manage to get them to agree with him.  Suddenly he starts feeling shaky and realizes its past lunchtime!

The above scenario is an example of a “not so admirable” Netizen. But if you do not want to suffer like our Rohan here, here is a guide you can follow. The Internet is a very familiar term where we end up spending more time browsing this virtual bliss than the outside world. People connected to this vast platform are called Netizens. Netizens can have a significant influence on one another, and it goes both ways. You can either virtually support someone or bully him. So our wellbeing, as well as others, must know about the etiquette to being an excellent Netizen to build a healthy and robust community. Further, the significance of being a good netizen has gained even more importance during the outbreak of coronavirus.

Almost everyone is stuck at home during the pandemic, with football stadiums closed and fewer restaurants to dine in, thus increasing the social media users. So, how has the coronavirus affected the time you spent on social media? Usually, netizens spend an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes a day learning, playing, and connecting with people according to the survey conducted by Salim in 2019. However, with the rise of physical distancing, people spend so much time on social networking just to connect with the people who are a few meters away. Thus, despite being locked down for weeks to months, internet users should always be aware of the adequate amount of time they spend and how they use social media. Consuming the proper amount of time for networking can not only save you from addiction but provide you with time to spend with the people around you. Don’t let the pandemic drive you into social media and intervene in your family relationship? Thus, netizens should be fully aware of the time spent on the internet, which is one of the assets of productive use of social media.

Communicating with people on the internet can go very wrong very fast if not dealt with compassion and consideration. At times, the brightest of flames might go out due to the toxicity of a few. You or I might not think it’s not that common but according to an organization, namely DO SOMETHING, at least 30% of the total internet population has faced cyber-bullying in his/her time on the internet. The spectrum for bullying ranges from a hateful/abusive comment to an unsolicited picture to an individual. Now, as a responsible netizen, what are our duties in this case? The first step is to educate ourselves on the whole concept. We might think that commenting something mean is harmless, but it has long-lasting effects on the person’s overall well being. They experience anxiety, fear, depression, and low self-esteem. As sensible netizens in many cases, even when retaliation seems like a good option, the smart thing is to step away and ignore the bully since chances are they do it for attention. Other than that, if we are personally offended by something someone has posted there is always a chance to give them a knock and let them know our feelings. A little amount of communication and compassion can go a long way during these difficult times.

People are at their most vulnerable state during this pandemic. False information and rumours can exacerbate not only severe emotional turmoil but also cause excessive anxiety to an already panic-stricken mind. With the spread of COVID-19 came the wave of rumours starting from drinking bleach to institutions opening amidst the pandemic. Students who were supposed to appear for the HSC-2020 are already under a lot of distress, and fueling these sorts of misinformation creates unrest among the candidates. Clickbait is an essential issue in the spread of misinformation. People tend to click on anything scandalous and later on the go around sharing these news articles on social media. Under these circumstances, what can we do as netizens to prevent such propagation? Checking news sources and where the report was issued is a great place to start. Many websites produce mass content without credible sources, which can be identified pretty quickly and are distinguishable from real materials. Overall, as responsible netizens, all of us should be careful of the articles circulated to us. If we come across any fake news, we should report it to the respective authorities immediately.

The idea of the “World Wide Web” has been revolutionary. The Internet is now a part of our growing up as human beings. It’s a world that’s exposed to everyone from children to adults. It’s our moral obligation not to create such an environment that leads to chaos and unhealthy scenarios. Let’s maintain the etiquette that would make us excellent Netizens. Let us be honest, tolerant and optimistic. Why? Because undoubtedly,  that’s the cool thing to do.

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Jointly written by: Jannatul Wara, Musarat Habib, Pema Yangzom, Sifat Tasnim & Tahia Binte Salim.