Today is Safer Internet Day.

Safer Internet Day (SID) is a global initiative celebrated around the world every February to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology and mobile devices, especially amongst children and young people.

In Singapore, everyone can do our part by supporting the Singapore Media Literacy Council’s “Let’s create a better internet” campaign from 11 February to 31 March 2014.

All that is needed from us, is a simple first step – post a positive message online today, let it take root and blossom to create a better Internet for everyone.

If you are sick of internet trolls, bullies and haters like I am – why not join in the pledge and get others to join in? 

Here’s the link to my personalised pledge video on Facebook. You can join me to do the same by visiting the Singapore Media Literacy Council’s Facebook page and creating your own video to share.

I have also put up the banners available on the official SID website on this blog, Hashtag Asia as well as my facebook fan page to show my support:

In line with the global theme of “Let’s create a better internet together” this year, the Media Literacy Council is advocating 4 simple values: Responsibility, Empathy, Integrity and Respect.

Responsibility:

Be responsible for what you post online. If you want to make a stand, do not hide behind an anonymous nickname if it is unnecessary to do so. Bear in mind that what you post online is public. You will be held responsible for it. Anton Casey learned this the hard way. On the positive side, there are many bloggers out there who peg their real name to the articles they post. Whether you agree with them or not, they have the guts to be held responsible for what they post.

Empathy:

Before you go on a tirade to criticise someone or an organisation on your blog or other online platforms, have empathy. Try putting yourself into the other party’s shoes first. Is your rant justified? Is it necessary? Often, you will find that after taking a moment to calm down, things may not be as bad it seems. Remember Mahatma Gandhi’s wise words: “An eye for an eye will only make the whole world go blind.” Why not be the one with the big heart?

Integrity:

Have the guts and integrity to stand up for what you believe in. I am disgusted by mob mentality and mob lynching online. You do not have to attack someone online just because a popular blogger you follow had a public spat with him or her. Have your own opinion and your own value judgement. The majority may not always be right. You are a human being, not a sheep.

Respect:

Respect others and others will respect you too. What applies in real life applies too in the online world.

Before you are quick to criticise or post something negative online, think of these four values and the consequences.

For me, the extra rule I run by is that whatever I post online, my wife, my son, my parents and all the people I hold dear can see it. My online persona is not far off from who I am in reality.

Would you call a random stranger you met on the street a “slut” or an “attention whore”? Would you tell a random stranger he is “talking from his arse” as you eavesdrop on his conversation with his friends?

No?

Yet this is what a lot of people do online, especially when they believe a cloak of invisibility called anonymity protects them.

I have been blogging since 2007 and am active on various public social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. I have my fair share of attacks from trolls and haters.

It can get very painful at times, to have people slime you just because you share a different worldview or opinion from them. I can stomach all these because I have been blogging for a long time. For younger folks, it could be a traumatic experience.

My advice for dealing for trolls, bullies and haters is always to adapt a zen-like attitude – eg. if you call me an “idiot”, I will just reply “thank you, I am an idiot”. There is no point in getting upset over some irrational hate comments. I have a life to live and no time for such nonsense. What they want is to get you angry and you will make them angrier when you do not react the way they want you to.

If all else fails, just plug out from the Internet for a couple of days or maybe even a week. You will find that things in the real world is not as bad as how you project them to be from the cyber world. People have short memory and will move on at some point. Let it rest.

Of course, a line has to be drawn somewhere. I believe that a person should be held responsible for his or her own public actions. To drag the whole family and all the friends in just as bad as Kim Jong-un sentencing his uncle and all his uncle’s extended family to death.

In the recent cyber lynching of rude Briton, Anton Casey, I think it all went too far when some started attacking his family. Yes, Casey’s actions were wrong. No, I do not think he deserves death and violent threats. The pen is mightier than the sword. Just like he harmed others with his words, we can reach him too by writing a polite, but concerned email to his employer and getting him fired in a civilised manner.

A better Internet benefits everyone. I believe self-regulation is the way to go and we need efforts from everyone to make this happen.

The Media Literacy Council is not a regulatory body, but an advisory council made up of Singaporeans from different organisations who are able to evaluate media content effectively, and to use, create and share content safely and responsibly.

The objective is sound and I do believe what they are advocating on Safer Internet Day is for the greater good.

Everyone has the power to make the Internet a better place just by adopting 4 simple values: Responsibility, Empathy, Integrity and Respect.

Like me, you have the power to create a better Internet.

For the first step, do take the pledge and star in the campaign video at www.betterinternet.sg. Remember to share the video with your friends to spread the message.  When sharing on social media like Facebook and Twitter, use the hashtag, #sid2014sg. 🙂