Saturday 31 March 2012

Do We Know What We Are Commenting About?

The web has certainly enabled free flow of information. The mushrooming of social media provides the platform for news to be shared faster and for common people like you and me to put our point of views across, literally around the world.

In the older days, if we have concern regarding certain public issues, the only avenue for the masses to know our thoughts was through the newspapers. If we are lucky, our letters to the editor would be published. Otherwise, our thoughts will remain with us and perhaps with few other acquaintances who we meet over coffee.

Now, we have a different problem. Anybody could express himself or herself on different platforms such as blogs or social media such as Fecebook and Twitter. This resulted in a hugh volume of viewpoints circulating around the cyberspace waiting for somebody to pick them up and read them. In fact this has created hugh business opportunities for organisations such as Google. Instead of the challenge of convincing one news editors we need to attract the whole world to consider our thoughts and views.

As people could freely write what they believe as the truth, our challenge is to evaluate whether such thoughts are really valid. Given many platforms allow their readers to post comments, people from all walks of life could write their pieces from many angles based on their understanding of the facts and circumstances. Are all these views valid?

People normally form their point of views based on how they understand the issues being considered, their knowledge and past experience as well as their feelings towards the issues. Some may make general conclusions based on incomplete facts. This lead to people making general sweeping comments which may not fit with the circumstances. Whenever emotionally charged issues are debated, the emotions of the commentators would influence the views expressed. Worse, when people purposely write to defame or insult others with wild accusations without offering any evidence.

We, as readers, need to be more careful in considering information on the web. This does not mean that we could not believe what we read on our favourite websites but we need to exercise some sort of scepticism. Understanding the background of the commentators would provide us with some perspective on whether those comments could be considered on face value. Volume of similar thoughts and views does not necessarily imply the validity of those comments, especially when emotion is the main driver.

So, let's continue sharing our thoughts and views freely. However, we should remember that we do not necessarily be commenting based on similar facts, knowledge, experience and emotion. Happy sharing : )

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