This week, I learned a valuable lesson about Social Media and more specifically about the power of social media and the importance of using social media responsibly.

The first incident was the one surrounding the alleged racism incident at a Tulbagh bed and breakfast. But for the sake of the family involved, who are also friends of mine, I don’t wish to discuss that any further.

The other incident pertains to a tweet I spotted yesterday, on National Women’s Day:

“we’ve had “social media”, “social buying”, “social marketing” … I guess we can reclassify gang rape as “social dating” ? yes? maybe?”

While after some angry tweeting backwards and forwards, I came to understand that the tweeters intention was to raise awareness by using a shock tactic. I still felt both offended and sickened by the tweet.  Not everyone will take the time to try to find the real meaning behind that tweet, some people will take that literally, some people will laugh at that tweet and think it’s funny without understanding the meaning behind it as well as the trauma, degradation, violation and violence involved in such crime. I do believe more awareness needs to made about this issue, but I don’t believe that using messages which can be misconstrued or laughed at is the way to go.

It really got me thinking that with freedom of speech and expression there comes responsibility. I have learned that all too well in the last week.

The other issue is the #kony2012 viral campaign which is fervently spreading around the globe as we speak. For those of you who haven’t viewed the video, here it is:

The video is amazing, it is easy to take it at face value and believe all the facts presented. It’s easy to be emotionally swept up in the message, it makes you want to do something to help, to make a contribution.

But what if the facts aren’t quite as they’ve been presented?

I was eager to make a contribution, till I researched it a bit further and came across this article. After finding out that only 32% of my contribution would actually go towards the very people it aims to help, I started feeling a little uncomfortable about it.

Kony 2012: Lord help us, because this campaign won’t help anyone

Its a very good article, one which you should certainly consider reading before you happily click the like or share button on the Kony 2012 video.

I started looking for more information on this issue and came across this very interesting article on All

For Ugandan’s, Kony’s Crimes Are From A Bygone Era. 

I’m most certainly not saying that people should not support Kony 2012 or other causes of the like, I am saying that its important to research these things, without getting caught up in the emotion and the trend and mindlessly pressing the share/like/retweet button.

So the lesson’s I learned about social media this week have been many:

  • Tweet, Facebook, Blog responsibly
  • Your words have more power than you think
  • Don’t just take everything at face value, research and question everything
  • What is presented as fact is often only one side of the story