Take 5 – 6 February 2017 by Ms Joyce Teo
Good morning school leaders, colleagues and all GESSians,
Today I am going to talk about integrity and internet virality. What is internet virality? Like a fire that spreads quickly, different videos, memes, hashtags and other online trends vie for our attention daily and it is difficult to not be a participant.
The internet is no stranger to sudden bursts of popularity, often of random and senseless things – PPAP, Gangnam Style, Be Like Bill, What Does The Fox Say, Salt Bae are just a few I can name.
The irony of such viral content to me is that even if you have heard of how nonsensical they are, you would still feel compelled to view or even spread them for fear of missing out. Consuming such content can sometimes leave myself feeling guilty for having such tasteless humour or simply for wasting a few minutes of my life.
So, what has integrity got to do with meme sites and the Internet?
Just a few days ago, there was a message spreading on social media and messaging platforms claiming that NTUC FairPrice is selling rice made of plastic. The person who wrote the message also said a chemist friend has confirmed this fact and even claimed that NTUC FairPrice had agreed to withdraw from its stores all its jasmine fragrant rice. After a few hours of the news spreading, NTUC FairPrice posted a message on their Facebook page to deny the assertions and confirmed that the rumour was false. The supermarket chain has since lodged a police report and the police are investigating the source of this rumour.
The problem is threefold – first, the person who wanted to pass off false information as true; second, the people who shared it, whether or not they believed it and third, the anonymity that modern communication channels afford us. Take a moment to think, if you were the one who have received such a message, what would you do? What should you do?
Information, true or untrue, are readily available and quick to disseminate. In contemporary culture, we are so saturated with information that it is essential that we become discerning consumers. The links we choose to click on and the information we choose to consume play a part in forming our individual worldview and affect the way we speak, think and act. We all play a part in the kind of truths and ideas we want the world to share and appreciate.
So three questions I would like you to consider the next time you hit any kind of share or forward button are these – Why is this funny? Is it truthful? Is it worth it?
With such considerations, we can then create a cyber space that has more meaningful than malicious content. Remember that we are the culture we make.