I did not realize how powerful social media could be until I had the opportunity to share my story of body shaming on the page, “Humans of Thimphu.” After my story featured on the page, it was heartening to receive overwhelming messages. I realized there were a lot more in line who had my experience in different forms and situations. Many came forward to tell me how I encouraged them to speak up about their stories. A person who stopped dancing because of body shaming started dancing again. I can’t really describe in words how much this meant to me. It was then when I recognized the energy of social media. It only took another minute to change my perspective towards life. Yet another great episode of success through social media was when I became the co-founder of ‘Woke Culture’ an advocacy based page on social media. With the mission to create awareness and advocate people on various social issues, we stand together as a platform to reach the unreached and give voice to the voiceless through social media. Even though we are small in number and do not have huge engagements, we still work towards social justice and disseminate authentic and credible content. Our activities are to advocate social issues online and try reaching out to the unreached through new media. In the next few years, we hope to reach out to people in the rural communities and beyond. These are small steps to help our community build a better tomorrow through social media.
As of today, more than 60% of the population is below the age of 22. While social media can be informative, entertaining and resourceful, it can equally be toxic if abused. With huge engagements of youths on social media, there is rampant increase of cyber-crimes and online bullying in different forms. There are complaints of online sexual harassment, hate comments and even the exchange of child pornography. While many have started creating fake accounts, there are instances where pictures are posted on social media to lure the victim for money or fame. Such pictures are posted on various groups on Facebook to character assassinate the victim who might then fall prey to mental trauma. Not to forget, the issues of online fraud and transactions. These are few of many other cybercrimes that go unnoticed, predicting even worse surge in cybercrimes in the future. Every individual must secure their data online and fight back bullies. We must remember that freedom does not mean license to be lawless. Freedom of speech is not limitless and should not be used as an excuse to denigrate, belittle or to malign another person on basis of discrimination or hatred. Lastly, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck rightly addressed, I quote “Freedom must entail duty and responsibility.” I Unquotes.
Women and every individual using social media must be cautious of cybercrimes and on how to respond to it. The most important step is to inform and stay informed. The Department of Information and Media under the Ministry of Information and Communication has come up with a Social Media Policy for the Royal Government of Bhutan. It is a guideline which has been introduced to educate users on their responsibilities on social media. We must be aware of such policies to be safe. The guidelines suggest:
Further, one must secure their data on all online platforms and strengthen their security to be safe. To deal with cyber bullies, you can always seek help from the police. Bhutan has a cybercrime unit at the Royal Bhutan Police. With everything mentioned above, it is very clear that one must be a responsible person while using social media. With rights comes responsibilities. Every individual using social media must respect each other and treat everyone with equality. Our aspiring youths are talented and ambitious. However, one should always be careful of the big responsibilities that come along. One mistake can put your mental health on stake which is not something anyone would wish. Lastly, social media as pleasant as it seems can be poisonous. It is in your hands which one you would like it to be.