Are We Using the Social Media Beneficially?

Khin Maung Myint

A man is silhouetted against a video screen with an Facebook logo as he poses with an Dell laptop in this photo illustration taken in the central Bosnian town of Zenica

With efficient accessibility to the Internet and reasonably-priced mobile devices available on the market today, more and more Myanmars are using the social media. The ministries, government departments, businesses and people of all ages, genders and  walks of life—politicians, law makers, service personnels, businesspersons, company employees, students, street vendors, taxi drivers, trishaw peddlers, and even the monks and clergies—are using the social media. Many are addicted to it and are using it incessantly. However, are they using it properly and beneficially?
According to the Wikipedia, the social media are computer-mediated tools that allow people, companies and other organizations to create, share or exchange informations, career interests, ideas and pictures/videos in virtual communities and networks. At present there are 209 social media websites, catering for a wide range of usages, available on the Internet. The most popular social media in the world, today, are the Facebook (Facebook messenger), Whats App, Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Baidu Tieba and Snapchat. Most of the Myanmars use the Facebook, though there are some who use other social media, but only a few.
As the social media afford interactions between individuals or as a group network, where informations, views, ideas, interests, pictures and videos can be shared and exchanged, it is becoming the most used on the Internet. By the look of things, the social media craze is here to stay, but it’s regretful that most of our younger generations are not using it beneficially or properly, and the bad news is some are even abusing it.
Although I have had some basic training in the use of computer while in the service, I was out of touch for some years. When I came across terms like the Facebook, the Twitter and the Instagram and the likes, while watching TV or reading magazines or journals, I was intrigued to learn more about them so as to avoid becoming a technology dinosaur. Thus, I bought a cheap computer tablet and start honing my computer skills. At first I was  overwhelmed by the advance in technology and the vast difference from the bulky outmoded desktop PCs I am somewhat familiar with. I encountered difficulty in getting myself accustomed to the latest computer technologies and the cyber language, as they had advanced in leaps and bounds.
The cyber slangs, such as: LOL, Bae, and many more were Greek to me. It took sometime for me to get familiar with them. However, after mastering those slangs, I never used them because I think they seem childish or senseless and above all spoiled the English language. For example “LOL” stands for “laugh out loud” or “lots of love”. Very confusing, and “Bae” is short for “before anyone else”, but in Danish bae means poo;  which is ridiculous.
My views may be wrong. However, I would like to state my opinion concerning the Myanmar cyber slangs used on the social media. Abbreviating the Myanmar words are unlike doing it with the English words, as they sound even more senseless than the English abbreviations. I deem it an abuse of the language.
However, this abuse of language is nothing compared to the foul and obscene languages seen on the Facebook. Now-a-days I rarely read the comments on the Facebook written in Myanmar, because of the dirty, foul, filthy, obscene, rude and abusive languages, imaginable, used by some. The preceding lines may sound redundant, but if there are some more similar words I can think of, I wouldn’t hesitate to use them. What these persons don’t realize is, they are degrading themselves and revealing their up-bringings and moral standards. Such shameful activities are causing disgrace to the people as a whole and hence to the country, too.
The worst of all are the hate comments, directed at particular race, religion, individual or political party posted on the Facebook webpage. Such activities could bring social unrests, affecting the unity, peace and tranquility. These could thrust the country into undesirable situations and even into chaos.
There are also some pornographic materials posted on the social media, though very rare. Thanks to some decent users who were quick to report them to the social media service providers, so that they were taken down before they went viral. I, myself, had reported a few times and the responses from the server were very prompt.
I would like to urge the authorities concerned to crack down on such users. Cyber Laws or Acts shouldn’t only target the political activists, but should also be applicable to such scoundrels and social misfits on the Internet. Also, the users should report undesirable posts and comments to the service provider concerned, by describing clearly, in English, the nature and the meaning of the posts written in Myanmar language, so that they can understand and take immediate actions.
In conclusion, I would like to humbly request my fellow netizens to abstain from abusing the social media and avoid hate comments and offensive languages to redeem our prestige as a civilized and polite nation. If used properly the social media would prove to be very useful, informative, educative and provide wide range of knowledge, which are beneficial and assist in the progress of the individuals and the community.

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