Redefine social media etiquette: Experts

Jan 19, 2014, 03:53 IST | Dhiman Chattopadhyay

The tragic demise of Sunanda Tharoor and the bruising Twitter saga that unfolded before her death, begs the question: is the wonderful world of social media a double-edged sword? We find out

The tragic death of Sunanda Tharoor, wife of union minister Shashi Tharoor under mysterious circumstances has yet again opened up the debate over how social media is used and should be used with several questions being raised about social media etiquette. Every time you choose to make your views public or exhibit your feelings to the world you must be prepared to face the consequences of such actions from the same millions to whom you are advertising your happiness.

Sunanda and Shashi Tharoor were embroiled in a Twitter controversy barely two days before Sunanda was found dead in a Delhi hotel

Remember, ‘with every choice you make, you are also choosing the consequences of that choice, whether good, bad or ugly’. To quote what his uncle Ben told Spiderman, ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. And today there is no doubt that social media gives us great power, the power to reach out to millions and become an instant celebrity.

Therefore, self governance becomes rather important in a virtual world with very few rules or moral codes. A Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account can well be used like a surgeon uses a scalpel — to spread the good word, help people and enhance knowledge. But much like a scalpel in a killer’s hand could be deadly, if social media is used without proper discretion, without realising what the consequences of pushing the ‘send’ button could be, it could sometimes destroy people, relationships, reputations, and even lives.

Fame is no longer difficult to achieve. And that perhaps has made us all the more hungry for fame. Gone are the days when the media only spoke to true celebrities and famous people. Fame today need not wait for the monthly magazine or the daily newspaper any more — it is instant in an age when one can garner a thousand followers on Twitter in a day or earn several hundred ‘Likes’ on a selfie in a matter of minutes. The easy access to fame has therefore increased the lust for such fame, and an addiction that could be destructive, and even fatal in extreme cases.

When you want your intimate thoughts to be known to millions and when you consciously choose to take on your enemies in a series of tweets, be prepared to be judged and scrutinised by those same millions when your world crumbles, or when the same love you announced to thousands of strangers turns sour. Never in the history of mankind has 140 characters wielded the kind of power it does today. And clearly many of us have not been able to fully grasp this fact. A deleted tweet can still remain in the virtual world for years, if someone copies it before it is deleted and shares it with the world.

As the present case shows us, all those millions who saw, shared and reacted to the series of tweets that preceded the tragic turn of events are now sitting in judgement. Their claws are out and there is no way in the world one can stop that. Social media allows you to rule the world, but it also allows the world to judge and scrutinise your every action.

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