Judges and executioners on social media


SOME time back, I was out with my wife to buy a laptop and we met this pleasant saleswoman. She took pains to show us how to operate the machine and explained why some brands were more expensive than others.

Sometimes we can sense if a person is being honest and this lady was one of them. We didn’t bargain much and made the purchase in quick time. After packing the laptop and with a couple of other electrical purchases, it became a slightly bulky cargo.

We paid up and as we were leaving, the saleswoman gave me a telling off. “Hey, what kind of a man are you? Why are you letting your wife carry the heavy stuff? You are not a gentleman,” she half screamed.

Yes, she was right that my hands were free and my wife had to carry the bulky bag. But it is not because I am a wife abuser or not a real man.

We turned around and smiled at the saleswoman. This was the first time someone had spoken out about this. I just get angry stares most of the time in similar situations.

Then my wife spoke: “He has a broken arm (actually already healed but very weak) and can’t lift heavy stuff sometimes when it starts to hurt.” And to “prove my innocence”, I pushed up the sleeve of my shirt to show her the centipede-like scars – the result of a bad fall nearly a decade ago. This was followed by another fall a few years later (Yes, I am also known as Mr Clumsy).

The saleswoman smiled sheepishly and apologised. We made nothing of it, smiled back and left.

The moral of the story is don’t judge a book by its cover. Very often, what we see and what we know is totally different and I, often being the “victim”, can attest to that.

It is the same with many other situations where we tend to be judgmental and jump to conclusions about people.

There is a comic strip I saw on Facebook which shows a man running along, smiling to himself with a flower in his hand. A couple of others who see him passing by chuckle away with one of them implying the smiling man is cuckoo and needs psychiatric help. The comic strip ends by showing that the man is only keeping a promise to his young daughter before she died of cancer. She told him to smile always and he said he would. The last panel of the comic strip shows the man placing the flower on his daughter’s tombstone.

Sad, isn’t it? But the other two guys didn’t know this and were having a laugh at the expense of this man’s misfortune.

With technology advancing so fast, being judgmental seems to have become the norm. It seems like making nasty remarks and defaming people we don’t even know from Adam is the in thing.

There are enough instances of such postings on social media on a daily basis, so there is no need for examples. Innocent people getting abused and blamed for no reason whatsoever is a common thing. We have become judge and executioner.

It befuddles me how gullible we have become, that we believe everything we read on social media. Not only that, we make it worse by sharing and re-sharing the nasty stuff and making all sorts of comments … as if we are angels and can do no wrong.

Are we losing our humanity? What happened to empathy and compassion? Taking sides in an issue we know very little or nothing about doesn’t equate to being a good person. At most, it means we are ignorant and trying to put ourselves on a pedestal … the I-know-all-about-life type.

It hurts to see so much venom and hatred filling up social media when someone is being condemned. Why do we have to go down this path? Are we such hateful people that we must attack others at the slightest opportunity?

Instead, it would be much better if we posted good things … caring, loving and sharing among each other. Spread the love far and wide. Encourage friendship and charity.

Yes, sometimes it is necessary to show up nasty people to create awareness or make people more cautious. But to scream bloody murder just because someone digs his nose in public (okay not that but I need to emphasise my point) is becoming more and more intolerable.

There are days when I just want to exit social media, especially Facebook, for good. It pains me that people have become so insensitive and relentless in hunting down those they can prey on.

Then again, there are good people out there who are doing the right thing and using social media for just that – socialising. I would take that to mean making friends, making jokes and sharing experiences just like we do in real life.

Of course, they also discuss politics and all that other “sensitive” stuff, but civility is maintained. There is no name-calling or threats and abusive language just because friends cannot agree on certain issues.

On social media, doing nothing is better than doing bad, but doing good is the best. Not everyone may want to agree, but that’s the way I see it.

Dump the hatred, spread the joy and love.

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