Is Social Media guided by the Common Sense?
The workshop on Ethics in Social Media gathered together on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in Dublin. Ralf Peter Reimann, the facilitator of the workshop came up with three relevant topics of discussion, which the group commented on and prioritized, subsequently adding a fourth one. (Votes In quantity.)
- Data security & data protection (I)
- Private/public or private/personal/public (IIII)
- Social ”value” of a person or measurement (III)
- Interaction in social media, social media guideline (III)
It seemed that the questions on private/public were mostly important for the participants. Thus, the group shared experiences and good practices of how this issue has been managed. In the end the consensus was that as there are many kinds of people, there are also many ways to deal with the public/private issues. No one solution can be determined as a good practice as everyone has the freedom to draw their own line.
A third category of personal was also established. Many people thought that the personal can be shared online, and it is even necessary as you can’t hide yourself or control your online personality. Then again, the private is often hidden.
A suggestion in looking at where to draw the line is to consider if a person would to write in a newspaper the things they post on Facebook. Other suggestions offered were to use common sense and talk with people; ask the others involved how they would like to be treated online; and discuss where each and everyone wants to draw the line. This led the group explore the concept of the golden rule, that “one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself”. Actually the rule ought to be that “one should treat others as they want to be treated”. Thus, there is no common idea of the common sense. We all see things a bit differently based on our own experience and personality. We all draw the line a bit differently and thus, deciding to use common sense is a shady decision because it means different things to each and everyone.
Could there still be a common Christian voice that has a solid base, and is both recognized and needed?
The social media seems to be a place of measuring the value of a person, even more so for young people. It is also an environment where it is easy to laugh at unfortunate coincidences and funny stories of others. It is so easy to make mistakes in social media, and hard to correct them. Words can be misunderstood and messages can be taken out of their intended context. Often this discussion needs the voice of mercy, the voice most inherent to Christianity.
This doesn’t mean that we need to start to ‘pretend’ when we’re online. One doesn’t have to be more than human. It’s not possible to build an image of even a saint online! But one can choose many things. One can choose to be the voice of mercy. We can choose to highlight empathy and mercy. To be polite and mindful online can be even just a simple click. Yes, I LIKE your sayings. Yes, I LIKE you. Therefore, in conclusion social media offers an excellent opportunity to welcome new users and reach out to those with fewer friends, while offering an alternative to the gossip culture which frequently dominates these platforms.
Marjukka Laiho, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland