Gone are the days when the narratives of our society is dictated by the Government. With the advancement of the internet and social media, the world is now almost borderless. The internet has transformed the way we transfer and receive information. Everything moves at a faster pace, information is exchanged and conveyed in almost real time; and the Government is expected to do the same.
Unfortunately, sometimes, technology is abused to incite racism or religious intolerance instead.
Keyboard warriors, cyber troopers and even news portals have made the online world their “playground”, constructing their own version of “reality” with click bait headlines that serve their own agendas. This is an unhealthy practice of journalism.
The internet is a shared property owned collectively by all global citizens. As such, we have the responsibility not to misuse it.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Malaysians who have dedicated their time to doing their part to create a better Malaysia. Dr Raja Shamri, or “Hero Banjir” as he is more popularly known, has inspired the nation when his flood relief efforts in 2014 went viral; Revathy Bawadas Kumar is not only a radio presenter, she is also an Ambassador of Organ Donation; Kuan Chee Heng is an ex-policeman who now leads the 95,000 members of Community Policing Malaysia, bringing Malaysians together to keep our communities safe; Dr Aznil Hisham serves the nation at HUKM as a radiologist by day and sparks conversation on fostering unity with his online followers in his spare time; while Dr Teh Su Thye is the CEO of the Global Peace Foundation as well as a Committee Member to Promote Interfaith Understanding and Harmony.
These remarkable Malaysians have one thing in common – they use their influence online for the greater good. Their work have caught the attention and inspired thousands of followers, inspiring them to keep their optimism and belief in our beloved country.
We must not allow this optimism and belief to be tainted by a few bad apples. Like me, they too, are staunch believers of 1Malaysia.
A true testament to our unity was when our country faced its toughest year in 2014. When our country was hit by the worse flood in decades, when MH370 and MH17 tragedies struck, there was an overwhelming sense of togetherness that had cut through the political, race or religious divide.
Our netizens became the main driver for collective relief efforts and hashtags were created to spread words of encouragement. The social media became a part of the nation’s support system. It was one of the few moments where the online and reality worlds were aligned to serve a greater cause. It was a reflection of who we really are as a nation.
The battle of perception will be a continuous one. The internet is an open space for the voices of the people. But it is up to us to stay true to the path of moderation and not fall prey to misconstrued agenda by irresponsible users.
Internet users must be able to differentiate truths, half-truths, lies and opinion before forming their own judgment. We must be more cautious when sharing information on social media. We must continue to use the internet and social media as a platform to promote unity and prevent it from being hijacked.
The internet is a powerful tool that can both shape and dismantle a society. It is also a great space for discourse to take place. I urge all Malaysians to continue to stand together and use the internet for the greater good. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that our unity and harmony is preserved. After all, we are 1Malaysia.