These days, the rate in which news stories are propagated is amazing, thanks to the proliferation of both 24-hour broadcasting as well as the Internet. Although newsprint is still somewhat alive, it has been severely affected by online sources, most especially thanks to the speed in which happenings can be shared.
Despite the fact that indiscriminate sharing is rampant and there are many calls for people to be careful with what they disseminate – either for the sake of veracity or for security – people do tend to hit the “Share” button after merely reading the headline.
Considering that Malaysians make gossip their number one form of social activity involving two or more people – more so than food and/or sex – it really becomes challenging for many, particularly the government, when it comes to dealing with information overflow.
Unfortunately, the level of tattling and scandalmongering has become so normalised in our society that people often don’t stop to think if their actions are necessary – or even good.
Take, for example, the recent fire that struck the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru. The spread of the news seemed to beat the spread of the fire itself in terms of swiftness, and pretty much everyone heard about it within a few hours of the incident.
It is regrettable, then, that more than just the news was shared: some people started circulating a namelist of the victims that succumbed to the fire, with even a photo (later censored) showing the patient list from the hospital wall making the rounds.
Thankfully, many people condemned this form of sharing, calling for those who spread the images to stop for the sake of propriety – after all, no one should have to learn of a loved one’s passing from a total stranger’s Facebook status.
However, the damage has already been done – and this is not the first time such distasteful sharings have been done. Gruesome and demeaning images of accidents, war victims, differently abled people, etc. are gleefully parcelled out far too regularly, along with either a valueless comment or with platitudes.
This lack of respect for others also manifests itself in other ways. Former TV personality Ras Adiba Radzi, who is now wheelchair-bound, recently shared an incident of an able-bodied young woman using the toilet for disabled folks, where Ras Adiba and her carer were harassed by the young woman and her friends after being told off for abusing the facilities.
There also so many shared photos and incidents of non-disabled people parking in spaces meant for the handicapped that prove that Malaysians suffer from spiritual malaise.
Then again, it might be too much to ask for the common man to act with and have some dignity when authority figures in the society do not walk the talk either when it comes to principles nor gentlemanly behaviour.
People who gently point out mistakes are often harangued or worse, as whistleblowers in our beautiful country have discovered. The rakyat quite rightly don’t feel safe and secure anymore – with the result that no one wants to help anyone else anymore for fear of being victimised.
Look, it’s very simple: every person is deserving of being treated in a humane manner, with decorum and decency. You don’t have to agree with everyone – but you have to acknowledge that their lives matter. This applies to everyone – women, children, foreigners, even those who have passed on.
We need parents to teach children about manners and why they are important. We need every level of society to call out against those who deliberately threaten or cause violence. Palming intimidating language as merely a “war of words” only proves how clueless you are.
If you happen to disagree with this sentiment, don’t bother being indignant when things happen to you – because turnaround is fair play. And Karma is known to be a female sausage in Malaysia…
Source : Ahmad Azrai@The Heat Malaysia Online