Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind the Gap

by Chua Han Au

For every rumour, there’ll be the truth and the lie.

For every story, there’ll be a beginning and an ending.

For every day, there’ll be night and day.

So for Facebook, does it too have two sides to it?

The question is: Is Facebook a boon or a scourge?

Research has shown that in the 350 million users on Facebook, 67% of them are between the ages of 13 -25. More than 35 million users update their status every day. 2.5 billion Photos are added each month.

These photos that were being shared overtly, who were they meant for? Those people who took photos of themselves obscenely, what is your purpose? If getting fame is what you want, you’d probably be in the Hall of Shame. People will start picking on you. Netizens will start judging you.

Remember Amanda Todd? Remember the platform that was used to share her personal photos overtly? Yes it was Facebook. Now please don't get me wrong. I'm not putting the blame on Facebook nor am I an anti-Facebook fan. I will get on to what I am about to say soon enough. Like what I have said, everything has two sides. As such, Amanda Todd was at fault too. If she didn't listen to the men, her photos wouldn't have been shared worldwide.

If we were to start grieving, Amanda Todd's death was indeed a tragedy and I offer my deepest condolences. In her 9 minute long video, Amanda Todd shared some of the situations that she faced during her intolerable experience. She was bullied both physically and mentally.  Receiving insults, mocking, derisive comments on Facebook as well in school, she self-harmed. During one of her schooldays, she was also ganged up on. Following the attack, Amanda Todd attempted suicide by drinking bleach, but she survived after being rushed to hospital to have her stomach pumped.

It killed me inside and I thought I actually was going to die

Amanda Todd was teased by other students at her school for her low grades, a consequence of a language-based learning disability and for the time she spent in hospital to treat her severe depression.

“It didn’t really help that after she got out of the hospital recently some kids started calling her ‘psycho’ and saying she had been in the crazy hospital,” her mother stated.

“She went to the hospital, she had therapy, she had counselling, she was on a good track. On the day she gets out, that happens. I shake my head and I think, ‘Are kids really that nasty, do they really not think, what if it was them?'”

It was on 10th October 2012 that Amanda Todd passed on.

Personally speaking, this kind of situation could have happened on any social media website, be it Twitter, Tumblr, etc. And it so happens to be on Facebook. Therefore, we cannot blame Facebook for this misfortune. If there be a need to put the blame on someone, put it on us  Netizens. It is us that have misused and abused the liberty of Photo Sharing.

If we were to witness someone being bullied, do we stop and film it? Or instead, forget the video and try to stop the fight? What happens later if we film it? Many of us would probably share it on Facebook with a caption that reads, “Take a look at this!”

Reflect about it; what’s the point? Do we get compliments for having posted that video? Do we get rewards or money after sharing that video on Facebook? Truth is, the victim whom was bullied might be gravely injured, just waiting for a kind soul to stop by and take out his or her phone. Not to film, but to call for the ambulance. See, we are in control of our actions.

About the issue of Facebook being a boon or a scourge, I believe that is up to the individual. Facebook, being a fabulous invention, should be used appropriately and wisely. Videos which are hilarious, educational, inspiring can be shared. Photos which are meant to treasured among friends can be shared. We can also use Facebook for a certain number of things. Many of which include posting up a post with a picture, asking people from the internet to search for your lost puppy or your missing friend.

Using Facebook for legitimate reasons is a boon. Whereas using Facebook to share simply absurd materials is a scourge.

When others do not have a Facebook account, we laugh at them for not being abreast with the latest technologies. But are we really laughing at them, or are we laughing at ourselves?