EDITORIAL: ‘Antisocial’ media once again on the agenda

Comments made on social media are again on the record in Redland City.

As the Bulletin reports, comments made on Facebook prompted a city councillor to attend the home of the individual who made the comments, and the situation is now under police investigation.

The councillor said his intention was to counsel the resident about their use of social media.

The resident claimed what he deemed to be threats were made by the councillor.

What actually occurred is a matter for police; and this alone demonstrates the slippery slope social media use has the potential to lead to.

While social media opens many powerful avenues for communication, those channels can also be fraught with disaster at every turn if used unwisely, and or if commonsense and basic manners are not applied by the online community.

Even when they are, however, matters on social media can quickly turn awry.

To start with, consider the lack of body language. What a person may intend to be a harmless joke or banter could be misconstrued by others as insult, defamation, lies, or even betrayal.

Emojis (those little face icons carrying smiles, grins, frowns or other ‘emotions’) can help, but they are a far cry from human body language, which makes up a large part of our communication.

This social media uproar between councillor and resident follows on the heels of a dispute in May on social media between the Member for Bowman and a former state MP and, earlier this year, the State Ombudsman formally disapproving of legal threats made by Redland City Council to several residents who made comments about council on Facebook.

Some people enjoy the attention that public displays of ire bring, and, for others, it becomes something of a circus show; but would many of the comments made on social media see the light of day if keyboards were taken away and face-to-face communication was the only avenue?

Probably not, but common civilities often go out of play on social media.

Given that for the third time this year comments made on social media have made the news in the Redlands – and the year is only just over halfway through – perhaps a more apt term for it here is the antisocial media.

What an embarrassing consideration.

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