How to be a responsible internet citizen…

In the last few years, Facebook, Twitter and co. have become platforms for heated discussions on everything from politics to parenting. Due to its accessibility, social media can be a useful tool for getting your voice heard on issues close to your heart. With everyone passionately standing up for their viewpoints, debates online can quickly turn ugly. If you’re finding it difficult to navigate through all the hate and negativity, I don’t blame you. Here’s a little reminder of how to be a good citizen of the internet.  

DO express your opinion

One of the best aspects of social media is being able to connect with people all over the world. Talking to people with different backgrounds and values is a great opportunity expanding your horizon. Don’t shy away from expressing your personal beliefs and standing up for what you believe in. It’s almost guaranteed someone will disagree, but that could lead up the possibility of a mutually respectful conversation. You might even learn a thing or two.

DON’T make it personal

While you do have the right to voice your opinion online, it’s important to be considerate. Don’t make comments that will hurt people on a personal level, like insulting or invalidating their religion, sexuality, race or culture. If you do slip up and unintentionally offend or upset someone, apologise. Everyone makes mistakes and a sincere apology can go a long way.

DO engage in respectful debates

If you disagree with someone online, feel free to challenge them on it, but do so in a civil and polite way. Debates are intellectually stimulating, they can help you understand other people’s points of views and they improve your ability to take criticism. There is absolutely no shame in changing your opinion or admitting you’re wrong. Equally, you get the chance to educate people on topics they might have been ignorant about. Also, remember that you can’t get everyone on your side. Often, you’ll have to agree to disagree, and that’s okay.

DON’T start arguments

If you feel that an online discussion you’re involved in is getting out of hand, step away. Believe me, it’s not worth it. You will come across people who are unable to engage in civil discussions, who just yell at everyone that doesn’t share their opinion. While it’s tempting to call them out, giving them attention will likely make things worse. So just ignore them, turn caps lock off and do something worthwhile.

DO report hateful and inappropriate behaviour

Reporting or blocking someone can be a useful alternative to constantly fighting and calling out truly unpleasant online presences. If you see someone spreading unnecessary hate or sharing inappropriate content, don’t hesitate to click the report button. It might take a while to get the content in question taken down, in which case you can also block them for your personal peace of mind. In the end, your social media experience should be an enjoyable one and you shouldn’t have to put up with negativity.

DON’T let hate comments affect you too much!
I know this is easier said than done, especially for people who get hateful comments on a regular basis. It can be helpful to remind yourself that people who leave hate comments are, for the most part, highly insecure themselves and would never dare to say such things to your face. Instead, focus on all the positive comments from lovely, kind people with just as much passion as you.

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Julia

Hi, I'm Julia and I'm a second year Film and Television Production student at UoY. I'm a member of Vanbrugh college and currently in the Junior Common Room Commitee as Ordinary Member. I love cooking, befriending dogs, going on walks in the countryside and above all, Christmas.

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