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A part of a community, or apart from it

Date: 
Sunday, 8 September 2013

In today’s internet environment, we may look at the web as a platform where we can contribute in different ways.  Many of us spend enormous amounts of time online, clicking, spamming (or be spammed); gossiping; reading (or watching) and interacting socially in various media.  We do “contribute” much if we care to monitor the amount of time spent in fact, before the screen, whether on the computer monitors, tablets or even just the tiny smartphones.

Instead of asking, “what can I contribute today?” many actually waste their time over trivial or non-essential matters.  In place of window-shopping, we go site-surfing.  In social media, many are obviously involved in anti-social behaviour with their eyes glued to the screens, even at dining tables, rather than communicating face-to-face with one another.

What may be worse is that in social media, we may hide behind pseudonyms and become “faceless” people.  We may say things without thinking much about consequences.  Under such circumstances, many things may be given, said, or contributed: negatively and even destructively.

When we think of the real communities we belong to: our families, our best friends, the people that matter... of course the decision may be easy: We don't try to scheme about how to take advantage or belittle someone we care for or love.  Yet, when we are online, it can become really easy to say words that hurt or to justify our critical behaviour and selfishness.  Somehow, saying hurtful words with our keyboards tends to come easier than saying those same words face-to-face.

We should try to turn destructive critiques into constructive criticisms; turn depressing complaints into uplifting comments; turning hidden agendas into responsible suggestions. Instead of tearing apart the community we should be building up the body.

Let us be relentless in generosity to give personal attention and encouragement that brings us closer together and builds each other up.  Let us truly be a part of a community and not be apart from it.

Peter Poon