OpinionVirtue before virality
Virtue before virality
November 11, 2016
November 11, 2016

In this day and age, it’s normal for people to measure things in likes and shares on Facebook or Twitter. Whether it’s a competition scored on the number of likes a picture receives, a company constantly monitoring data to determine how to strengthen its viewership and reach, or even a teenager thinking up a funny quote to post on Twitter that might go viral, it’s become the norm to let these social media statistics matter more and more in our daily lives.

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What is not normal, however, is to forego all essence of respect and morality just for the sake of a few hours of social media fame. Such was the case when, at the onset of an incident last October 25, 2016, various insensitive pictures, comments, and tweets were spread online. It got even worse as people began sharing these pictures to friends or groups on a whim.

There is nothing inherently wrong with social media, but there was something wrong with the way people reacted on that day, and how people tend to react to similarly sensitive issues. Instead of treating these issues with the proper respect entailed, several people turn it into a source of gossip—the day’s chismis, so to speak. Students who speak about the matter animatedly, excitedly spreading rumors and sensitive information, or otherwise uploading and sharing gruesome and disrespectful pictures, forget that there are very real lives affected by these situations.

For reporters and photographers entwined with the media, privacy and respect can be difficult lines to recognize and skirt around, and unfortunately, there are times where we err and inevitably cross them. In the desperation to deliver the news first, established media agencies have published articles based entirely on tweets and hearsay with little to no consideration for the accuracy of the information, causing more distress to those deeply affected by the incident, and encouraging more online frenzy over the issue. A line must be drawn for all journalists to recognize ethical and moral standards, however, as The LaSallian understands that even our job of delivering news to our stakeholders takes a backseat to the respect that these issues require.

This applies to all kinds of sensitive issues that people have a tendency to gossip about, whether it be national issues or local ones. And while social media’s rise means that it inevitably becomes the easiest avenue for information dissemination and communication, it does not mean that people have the right to cross moral boundaries by using Facebook and Twitter to spread disrespectful pictures and rumors.

People care about going viral on Facebook, getting retweets on Twitter, having something interesting to gossip about with friends and family, or being the first to break the news, but these things pale in comparison to the ethics and respect that we, as human beings, should be practicing. In a generation that has become more and more reliant on social media, hopefully, people remember to stop and think twice about what they are doing and spreading online. In any situation, proper sensitivity and respect of privacy should come first and foremost.