Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Dealing With The Risks of Freedom of Speech on Social Media

Social media is a weird place. Social media consists of several different platforms designed for us to say whatever we want. It allows us to have this freedom of speech, but of course that freedom comes with a price. Because we are all unique individuals, we do not always agree with the people we are connected to online. The following is an example.

Recently a racist commenter decided to leave their opinion under a blogger’s Facebook status. Everyone gets weird comments from time to time, but this particular blogger could not handle what the other person said. She spent the rest of her day updating statuses around this random racist white man.

 In the midst of expressing her anger on her page, she found time to contact the human resources manager at the company the person works for. She did screen shots of that person’s comments and sent them over. She then did a screen shot of how the hr person responded and posted it to her Facebook page. Apparently the company must have been huge, because the reply of the hr person involved researching the person on Linkedin to see if they really worked there. We were not informed what happened to the person’s job after that, but one thing was apparent.

Whether the comment is on the lines of racism or it is just someone disagreeing, we can’t really express ourselves the way we want. Expressing ourselves online now comes with the risk of being verbally attacked by one or several people, getting in trouble with our employers, and even potentially losing our jobs if what we say sounds offensive.

Even without employment being a problem we are trying to appease family members, friends, and make new acquaintances online. This means we are tiptoeing around everyone’s feelings as we attempt to express ourselves on our own personal pages and be social on other people’s pages.

I don’t know about you, but this can become stressful for me. How am I supposed to write about my love for R. Kelly without worrying about someone reminding me of the horrible things he’s done? How am I supposed to hop in the comments section of a person’s status about Nicki Minaj being there for her brother without someone else verbally assaulting me for agreeing with Nicki?

My history on Facebook goes back to 2006. Since then I've deleted photos and status updates based on fear of not being hired by a good corporation. Since around 2013 I've become more careful of my posts for fear of someone trying to get me fired from my job because I disagreed with them. The above is one of many occurrences I've seen where people find out where a person works. I've also had to change how I approached Facebook and other social media pages because I have family members watching my every move online. 

Have you been doing this too? Is your approach to social media forever changing because of the people you're connecting with? 

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