Internet has become a crazy place. Information is available at our fingertips. We know the major events that happen across the globe which eventually become viral. Often, the initial impressions of about them are quite biased based on what we see. However, some opinions get a better bias when famous social entities place their vote. These can be a Facebook page, a Twitter handle, a YouTube channel, etc. or on a more personal level, this could be one of our family member, a close friend, a professor, a higher up at our workplace, etc.
What goes wrong here is, these biased opinions ultimately become the verdict of the people. People share these opinions everywhere on the social media which spreads the reach even further. Those who were unaware of the event get an opinionated impression and even they follow the trait. This further goes down at the personal level and becomes a topic at coffee shop talks, meetings, institutions, workplaces and family discussions. It forms a positive feedback loop until a contradictory opinion surfaces and picks up steam.
For example, let’s take an imaginary event.
Government officer Mr. XYZ caught in $100 scam.
Soon, posts circulate on social media about the incident and becomes viral. People write more posts, re-share existing ones, blame and abuse Mr. XYZ. Some go as far as defaming him publicly, protesting on streets, etc.
By the time, the truth is known, either the topic loses its traction or the suspect is prejudiced under public opinion. If public opinion is the truth, it means either justice was given hastily under the public influence or justice was surely delivered correctly on time (kudos to the judicial authorities!). Former can be hazardous in case the public opinion wasn’t the truth. It may end up ruining the life of the innocent or even death by punishment. If the public opinion is not the truth, then it would set a negative mindset about the suspect among people for some time until truth reaches out to everyone. Then you would see sympathizers spawning up.
Mr. XYZ has been suspended from his office. His family faces a bad time. Eventually, he moves to a different place to start a new living.
Social media is filled with posts like “Justice has been served.”, “Rightly punished. #FaithInJusticeRegained”.
However, one fine day, some other officer, Mr. ABC, is caught in a similar scam. Further investigation leads to the conclusion that indeed Mr. ABC was the culprit in the previous scam, not Mr. XYZ.
Following this event, social media cries out in favour of Mr. XYZ. “We are ashamed. Forgive us, Mr. XYZ. #JusticeNotSoRight #ShameOnJudiciary”. However, damage was already inflicted.
The entire example was imaginary and exaggerated. But, then, you got the point, right?
This can be corrected only if the opinion isn’t biased in first place. Only if people think about the order side of the coin early and raise their contradictory opinions, a wrong judgment can averted.
Whenever you get to know about an event that goes viral, first, try to understand both the sides of the opinion. If the other side is definitely the truth, your opinion can actually save an innocent.
Though, this topic is not restricted to social media, it can be extended to personal level. Maybe we can stop judging people based on others’ opinions and conclude our own opinion only after an honest open-minded meeting with that person. We may just make a new friend, but that person would surely get a hope.