Be a smart digital citizen

Much of the world wide web is about communicating and networking. Here are some tips to becoming a great communicator - your friends will stay friends, and you won't make enemies!

Don't do unto others what you don't want done unto yourself (Empathy & Graciousness)

Many Internet users think that by assuming a fake identity or by being anonymous online, they are able to get away with taking responsibility for their online actions and behavior. Hence, people find it easy to be blunt, curt or even downright hostile or malicious on the Internet when engaging other people in conversation. Or they tag snide comments and hurtful remarks to other people's photos.

As the old saying goes - "Do Unto Others What You Want Others To Do Unto You" think about what if you are on the receiving end. So, don't do to others what you are not prepared to accept for yourself!

Think Before You Post (Respect)

Yes, you are furious at some hurtful or unfair comments that have been hurled at you, and you just have to respond. But remember the wise saying "Speak in haste, repent at leisure" words spoken in anger are likely to make matters worse. This is how cyber-bullying and flame wars start. First, assess if its the work of trolls. Trolls want to create discord by purposely baiting people to react. A good practice is to always ignore trolls.

If it's not trolls and you absolutely have to respond, and it is good to respond if you need to set the facts right, write objectively and dispassionately. Win people over with your objective arguments and logic, hysterics will not get you anywhere. The same holds true if you disagree with what people say. There is no need to make personal attacks as everyone is entitled to their own views. Make out your case politely and objectively. You might find that you will get a few converts instead of enemies.

Why Spread Falsehoods? (Responsibility & Integrity)

It's human nature to want to share information. So what's wrong with sharing a little gossip? Offline, gossips can hurt but can't travel too far. Online, the impact of gossip and fake information is amplified.

This is where you have to exercise good judgement. Sometimes, fake information is deliberately spread online as part of a disinformation campaign to discredit a certain group, individual or view/position. Fake information can also be created for the purpose of spreading mass panic. While this may seem like fun to the creators, it actually does no one any good. Worse, it creates problems and wastes public resources especially if it becomes an issue which the police has to investigate.

So if we can't be sure that the information in a tweet or post or article is true, it is best not to redistribute it. That would be exercising responsibility and integrity in a connected world.

Reject Bad Behaviour (Integrity & Resilience)

The Internet is a new world where the social norms are still evolving. If you see abusive behaviour on the internet, for example, inappropriate posts or mob lynching (where everyone appears to castigate and condemn an individual for an alleged wrong-doing), you should speak up by flagging such posts, or reporting them to the web site administrator. In rejecting and reporting bad or bullying behaviour, you are helping to create a better cyber space by propagating positive social norms. Most people are rational, and are probably just waiting for someone to take the lead before they follow. Be the change!

Here are some tips on how you can be a Smart Digital Citizen.

SORT before you click!

Stop - Stop, think about whether what you are posting is factual, accurate or would have any implications on yourself or others.

Observe - Observe what's happening around you, do you really need to follow what everyone else is doing?

Respond - Respond responsibly, what goes online stays online.

Tell - Tell and report any abuse or inappropriate content to the relevant parties.

Take charge and play a role in helping to build a more positive and enriching cyberspace for all.