KUALA LUMPUR: Recently, the photo of a Year One pupil in Putrajaya eating a meal out of a large tiffin carrier in her classroom went viral on Facebook.
Many netizens chose to ridicule the schoolgirl and referred to her as ‘weird’ and ‘old-fashioned’. Their insulting comments were totally unnecessary because there is absolutely nothing wrong with bringing food to school packed in a tiffin carrier.
Not long ago, a Malaysian woman residing in the city of Chicago in the United States uploaded a photo of nasi lemak on a popular cooking site on Facebook that has 1.5 million members.
Her post drew a number of venomous comments from netizens who were not upset with the nasi lemak, which the woman had cooked herself, but the photo’s background scenery – the dish was set against the backdrop of a glass window through which snowflakes can be seen falling down to the ground.
Of course, the photo attracted a lot of positive remarks as well but her detractors told her not to be a ‘show-off’ and to stop sharing such pictures.
These are just a couple of examples of the so-called keyboard warriors who think nothing of disparaging fellow netizens who share their photos, views or stories in good faith on their social media accounts.
It can be an emotionally taxing affair for social media users who are mocked and ridiculed by the “loose cannons” in cyberspace. In some cases when they come under incessant attack, they may get so emotionally overwrought that they might even contemplate suicide.
Commenting on the existence of insolent and heartless commenters on social media, psychologist Dr Syed Mohamad Syed Abdullah said there is nothing unusual about this because in any society people have different perceptions and opinions on any issue.
“As we all know, each individual is different in terms of their personality, attitude, perceptive values and motivations. So, people react differently to anything happening or any matter they come across,” he said.
Syed Mohamad, who is a senior lecturer (guidance and counselling) at Universiti Sains Malaysia, told Bernama in Malaysia there has been isolated cases of social media users who were mentally disturbed by the negative reaction from netizens to their posts or tweets.
He said if these individuals were not able to control their emotions, it may have a serious impact on their emotional and mental well-being.
“Although such cases are not widespread in our country, we cannot disregard them as they can eventually disturb the peace, harmony, well-being, psychology and mental stability of the people,” he said.
Commenting on the psyche of social media users who have a tendency to post negative comments, Syed Mohamad said these individuals in actual fact “deserve to be pitied” as they possessed an unhealthy “soul”.
Netizens should realise that they wield enormous power when they interact with others on social media, he said, adding that they also have the power to report to the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission if they come across disturbing posts and comments.
“I have also observed some responsible social media users themselves acting as mediators and coming forward to set the facts right, if necessary, to stop the cyber bullies from making further ‘attacks’,” he added.
Family psychology consultant and Syariah lawyer Suzana Ghazali said netizens who post unsavoury comments may have psychiatric issues.
“If you were to check their profiles, it would look as if their accounts were created for the purpose of creating trouble. It also seems as if they derive great satisfaction out of bringing others down,” she said.
According to Suzana, these troublesome netizens enjoy degrading others probably due to their own lack of self-worth.
“They are obviously not happy with their achievements or possessions and have no confidence in their abilities… so they set out to bring others down. They feel victorious each time they succeed in insulting someone,” she said.
Sensible social media users
On what social media users can do to ward off abusive commenters, Syed Mohamad said they can choose to ignore or boycott them.
“To be honest, these people (commenters) have a psychological problem… they are just seeking attention and popularity when they post comments that are hurtful. They enjoy it when their comments draw a deluge of reactions from others. This is something that is not healthy at all,” he said.
He also pointed to the need to conduct a campaign to educate Malaysians to become sensible and prudent social media users, adding that the people need not follow the trend in other countries where social media users tend to express their views freely.
“While people are welcome to openly communicate their views and opinions, it should, however, be done in a controlled manner,” he said, adding that stern action should be taken against netizens who insult religions or make provocative remarks. -Bernama