Critical Need for Media Literacy!

Mekelle፡1 June 2024 (Tigray Herald)

Critical Need for Media Literacy!

Haftu Kindeya

I think it’s important to show decorum on social media. In my culture, it used to be common for couples to engage in intimate activities after switching off the lights. I’m not sure if this custom is still followed today.

This is the current situation on social media, where individuals are targeting others while hiding their identities. They show no regard for your feelings or mental health as they use fake names to insult you.

In my short but active engagements in social media especially on Facebook, I am observing many unmanned users. They do attack people in many ways. 

They don’t hesitate to harass others. It ranges from sarcastically harassing you to openly insulting using dirty words on your wall (home to me). They undermine leaders without any knowledge of leadership or concern for what those leaders are going through. They don’t feel guilty when using dirty words in public. As I said, they mostly hide their real names. They actively participate in such crimes using pseudonyms. At times, they may have religious verses or photos as their profile pictures. That makes you assume these people may be suffering from personality disorders.

But, it is beyond that!

Even others known by name don’t hesitate to commit the same crime. Unfortunately, many of them that I observe doing those things live abroad. In principle, you may hide or live far from the person you are attacking but I assume that your actions will have consequences to yourself too. I believe your actions will at least affect you to not peacefully sleep, or you will remember those bad behaviors when you visit your respective religious institutions or fathers. Though you hide yourself from others, it is impossible to hide from yourself. You will at least suffer with morality dilemmas daily.

I was also comparing those activities with my friends or followers or those whom I follow or are shared by others on Facebook. When I see those friends from other nations, other than Ethiopia and Eritrea, they are responsible when using social media.

Let me support my bold conclusion which I don’t like to make so usually.

I was living in Finland when our brothers were murdered in a cold-blooded manner by terrorists in Libya. The footage was shared by numerous Ethiopians and Eritreans without displaying any concern for the victims’ families or other viewers.

The way those murderers publicly showed the killing of a Western journalist online was similar. However, soon after, you could never locate it on the internet. This was the key distinction that I noticed.

Second, many of our prominent activists do not allow everyone to comment on their walls. Their reason was to protect themselves from such people.

In our context, users only worry about their emotions. The other users in other countries worry about you too. It is not uncommon to know the death of your mother on Facebook in Ethiopia. These people are faster than the speed of light in posting those issues that concern you more than them.

So, I was asking myself what are we lacking?

I think we lack civility and media literacy. Civility or courtesy is a personal demeanor I believe and it may be difficult to develop it via training. But, media literacy could lessen those actions.

Media literacy does not mean technically operating the gadgets of social media. It is using the media responsibly. This means a person with a Ph.D. in computer science may also need media literacy.

I urge those who know the issue to take an assignment and work on it. It could be at a university or school or anywhere. Or it could be integrating it into the school curricula. In any way, all concerned bodies need to work on it.  I think it is a very timely issue.

Taking action immediately is crucial to prevent our children from experiencing such horrific acts in the future. Everyone must acknowledge bullying as a criminal offense.

I care about you! Do you?


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