Internet – humanity’s second most important invention after the wheel, serves a multitude of purposes. As observed in the last few years, it often serves as a driver of change through social media. Social media is one place where most of us turn to express, share, discuss, criticize, participate or sometimes just be silent observers. However in this discourse, one often encounters situations where the internet is an unsafe space. The more glaring instances of cyberbullying are easier to spot, but it is the subtle everyday ways that collectively make the the digi-verse threatening and intimidating for others. Out of the many, we are listing down 10 such situations where you are making the internet unsafe.
1. Mansplaining & derailing conversations
Often observed in online discussions around women’s issues, mansplaining is the tendency of some men to explain things to women, whether they need the explaining or not, because of an ingrained assumption that they’re too ignorant to understand. What it does is, it derails conversations based on lived experiences and discourages people to engage in healthy discussions.
2. Negative comments and personal attacks
You do not agree with a post or a person’s point of view? Fine. Do you get offended by someone’s opinion too quickly? That is fine too. But do you engage with people online with vitriol and aggression? Not cool. When you’re dishing out violent words, you are creating a space where people would dread sharing their thoughts. Many a times to the effect of triggering trauma.
By definition, trolling means making a deliberately offensive or provocative online post or comment with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them. It may seem harmless to many people in intent but its effect on the targeted party is what really matters. Insensitivity under the garb of anonymity is one of the worse things that make the Internet an unsafe space.
4. Sly tweets or statuses
Many people put up sly tweets or posts on their social media channels. These are indirect ways of belittling, venting or humiliating specific people, made obvious contextually. It is the online version of “washing dirty linen in public”. Did I tell you that you got to STOP?
5. Creating fake profiles
Impersonating people itself is a crime let alone you’re doing it online. Not only are you threatening someone’s privacy, you are putting the other person at risk. Creating fake profiles IS A CRIME. Period.
6. Revenge porn
Rejection is no reason for anyone to go down this road. Uploading someone’s intimate pictures, messages or videos of sexual nature without their knowledge as a way to “get back” at them is downright unacceptable and criminal.
7. Uploading phone numbers, pictures and videos without consent
Sharing anyone’s contact details, photos and videos without their consent is a big NO NO. It is an invasion of an individual’s privacy.
The act of stalking itself is one of the most common crime in our society. The reason it is so common is because we normalise and glorify it.
9. Hate Speech
There is always a tussle between people who equate hate speech to freedom of speech and those who call it out. Given how everyone wants to participate in social and political discussions, one of the most common phenomenon is hate speech. When you single out and diss a particular person or group based on their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or any other bias, you are indulging in hate speech which automatically makes the internet an unsafe space.
10. Not taking a stand
Without community support or solidarity, people end up feeling scared and isolated. If you see any form of cyber bullying and abuse, speak up. Take a stand in whatever way you can. It will have a domino effect and will urge other people to do the same. It is absolutely essential to understand the importance of creating safe spaces on the internet.