With Facebook comes great responsibility

opinion December 12, 2011 00:00

By The Nation

2,516 Viewed

Thai stars are giving the rest of us an object lesson in social media's downside

First it was Sek Loso’s ex-wife. Then it was the star singer himself, who was forced to respond to her charges of drug abuse, child abandonment and physical assault. After that it was former actress Saitarn Niyomkarn, followed by her boyfriend, accusing each other of physical attacks. In just one week, Facebook showcased back-to-back love-turning-sour stories of Thai celebrities.

By all indications, the phenomenon promises to intensify and become a long-lasting trend.

The use of social media for “domestic” purposes is not new, of course. Several months ago, an audio clip was spread to highlight a tug of war over a child belonging to an actress and her estranged husband. More recently, another popular star and singer became a victim of malicious video clips despite her apparent attempt to seek a truce with a foreign man with whom she was thought to have had a brief romantic relationship.

All the aforementioned cases spread like wildfire through the social media. That was certainly the intent of those involved. In today’s world, a Facebook posting can reach thousands or even millions in 24 hours. In some cases, it’s better than hiring a lawyer in order to hit back at someone. In other cases, total destruction is intended and lawyers are never an option.

Society is changing drastically. Facebook is known to have caused countless break-ups in Thailand, after that trend wrecked families in the West. As they say, being a Facebook generation comes with great responsibilities. The responsibilities include trying your best to make your break-up as decent as you can. As things stand now, that is a big ask.

The Facebook risk is obvious. To be exact, taking any social media route when the romance turns sour carries the very same risk. Once it is out there, you can’t take it back. And nobody can help you take it back. Reunion is not impossible even if you lash out at your “ex” through the social media, but the “scar” could be bigger.

And it doesn’t involve only the couple in question. We all find it difficult or awkward to deal with a sudden, drastic change in a person’s “status”. Sometimes it feeds human curiosity when a friend suddenly keeps posting songs about broken hearts, but when it goes far beyond that, it can be depressing. This is not to mention the fact that a heart-broken teenager’s seemingly suicidal message on his or her wall can reach the parents in a matter of minutes.

Political use of social media has been rampant in ideologically divided Thailand. It’s largely destructive, but it’s understandable. When ordinary lovers square off through Facebook, the pain can run deep. That’s something the “Facebook generation” will have to cope with. It is not that hard to mend the fences with a girl who accuses you of beating her up. It may be something else if that girl broadcasts her accusations to a million people in just one day.

Facebook at least serves the human need for support when a person is at a low point. It can make one feel considerably better when sympathy pours in even when he or she is all alone in a dimmed room. Facebook allows a friend on the other side of the world to console another friend who has just been separated from his or her spouse. This is a real plus side.

The catch is, it isn’t just the concerned friend. He or she may see the broken pieces of your life with sympathetic eyes but there are others, too, who may consume the news with far less understanding.

It may feel good when the feeling toward the one at the wrong end of your status update is still soured. But all feelings can change and even the bitterest of bitterness can disappear. If that happens, it can be too late already.