By now, most of you would have spent the past weekend digging up your PSLE scores and sharing with your social media network about how you’ve done in life since, in response to the whole KiasuParent PSLE saga, or as I like to call it, KiasuGate. If you had clicked that link, you’d probably also have read that the parent in question claimed she had been inaccurately quoted and her privacy invaded.
In the old days, where the corner coffeeshop was the Internet, we would probably have just grabbed some popcorn, sit back and watch the action. These days, however, “coffeeshop talk” has got the power to get a US President elected.
You see, social media has created an environment where disinformation thrives. Disinformation isn’t new, and is a tale as old as time, but the power to spread lies is now unprecedented.
Yes, social media has created a Frankenstein monster, and that monster is us. (I know we once said social media makes Jekyll and Hydes out of our youths, but Frankenstein is the same ballpark.)
Think about it, when was the last time you were so emotionally charged that you had to share an outrage at some injustice online? And have you had lunch since then?
Fake news such as Pope Francis Endorses Donald Trump would have remained the imagination of some writer in Vladivostok had we not shared it on our social media pages. Remember that old saying, if no one saw a tree falling in the forest, did it really fall? Similarly, if no one shared the fake news, then it didn’t really happen.
KiasuGate reminded me of that Christian song that goes, it only takes a spark to get a fire going. So, the news wasn’t exactly fake, and while we don’t really know now who is telling the truth, when you first read that Today article, did we even pause before we set the house on fire? Did you stop to think, hmm, I wonder what her side of the story is? Or did you immediately Hulk out and smash your keyboards?
Admit it, how many of you started posting your PSLE scores in what I like to now call #PSLEChallenge? You might think it was good intentions to encourage young children who didn’t do well in their PSLE scores, but with every post, you were also giving more legitimacy to the myth that Madam Soon is a bad parent.
It only takes a spark to burn down the house in the online world.
You’re old enough to figure this out, and you don’t need me to tell you how you should always check your sources before you post. Lord knows you have enough councils and organisations trying to tell you to do that already.
But in case you really have no clue, here’s a pretty good video giving you some tips by some apparent professor. You can come back after you’ve watched it.
Did the video give you good advice? Did you check if the lady in question was actually a professor and an expert in giving out such tips? You see where I’m going with this?
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I totally know the irony of me saying this in a relatively new media such as The Pride. I could tell you how legit I am because of my years as a journalist, but in truth, you have to do your own research as to whether anything I say is worth listening to or not.
Sure, I’m sitting in prison as I write this because of my Criminal Breach of Trust case two years back, but I feel that my quiet cell that allows me clarity to say this with authority.
And also that if you had clicked on that “source” I gave you, THAT PERSON IS NOT ME.
The point is, and I think there was a point, that with information coming to us almost every second of the day, and our power to pass that information along just as quickly, we must reflect our role in the creation of events like President Elect Trump.
A like or share might seem a trivial thing, but it’s really not. In this connected world today, it is power, and the greater your network, the greater your power, even with Facebook’s limiting algorithms.
And as Abraham Lincoln once said: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
And if you believed that, you should delete the Internet from your devices.
Edwin admits that he would have fallen for the PSLE Challenge as well, but then he watched The Walking Dead and realised that he didn’t really want to be a zombie.
Update: Madam Soon, as of 1 Dec, has now recanted her version of the story and now claims her privacy wasn’t invaded. Thanks for further making my point.