Last September, I was experiencing the first probable feelable shock of an earthquake in my life. I was riding towards my room on my bike that evening. On reaching the center of the Sankhamul Bridge of Kathmandu, my bike got stopped. Suddenly, the 8.9 scaled quake started swinging the bridge. After seeing the public scampering, my heartbeat also got faster because of fright. I was thinking, the bridge may break down. After escaping out, I was so eager to update my Facebook status about this most memorable incident. Through the hurdles in network connections, I accomplished the job of updating. Some friends liked and some of them commented on it.
Besides the comments, I admired something else. The wall of this social network was filled up with current updates about the recent quakes. Casualties, damages, intensity on different areas were all seen in the posts of the users. Facebook at that time stood as an open portal for citizen journalism. Merely 10 percent of my Facebook friends are journalists working for different media or freelancing, but I was seeing the posts from about 50 percent of my friends who have not done their first reporting. I was getting the updates from most of the districts in just seconds.
“No one has to be a professional Journalist to disseminate the Information or news.”
This statement has been proven because Facebook was the only news source for me that day. Most of the radios and TVs were playing music. Some were talking about politics and some were scrolling flash news. But naively I was searching for full details about the casualties in the areas of my concern, which may be my homeland or somewhere else. But none of the media were providing the full details. I thanked my friends for updating their statuses. I, too, was updating my experience and perceptions about the quake, through which my friends abroad could get informed. After that day, I am always thinking and searching for ways to use this social portal as a space for citizen journalism. If used decently, Facebook permits us to get a lot of news, information and updates through an individual citizen journalist. In my sense, every Facebook user is a journalist who may be narrowcasting, but is propagating the news. All of us, you and I.
You may be wondering what I mean by decency. I do have another experience to share. I have liked some interesting Facebook fan pages. Some of the pages I have liked contain more than seventy thousand likes. One day I got the sad news of the demise of Ram Man Trishit, the popular music artist from Nepal. Again Facebook was the medium to give me the news.
“May his soul RIP,” I wrote on the status of Mysansar.com. With a profound heart, I was just signing-off, my eyes scanning loosely over notifications. Some of the users liked the status were there was written, “Ram Man Trishit is no-more.” I didn’t feel, I should say something to them because it is just common sense that no one likes his demise.
After the demise of Dalit-Activist Subas Darnal, many were writing on his Facebook wall. Some of them were stating, “I am sad to listen the news of your death, I do not believe it,” and some were writing, “Is this news true?”
Where had the common sense of those users been? Do they not know that the dead cannot answer their questions and comment on their status posts? Again the question of common sense arises.
The same is happening nowadays. The vulgar posts on Facebook walls also lack common sense. If you want to read more about those unbelievable offensive stories by clicking on ‘Follow,’ you will definitely get the same problems as these. If you want to get rid of those stories posted on the walls of your friends by your name, just click on ‘Report as Spam.’ You can see this option to the right of the story post.
Finally, it’s my conviction that Facebook is an open slam-book protected with passwords. If used decently it is a space for sharing feelings but it is also a destructive technology if we forget the universal concern of common sense. Again I say, use Facebook as a diary, to share your experience as a storyteller and to share the news as Citizen- Journalist. Facebook has the largest coverage, which not only spreads your success but also your slip-ups. Mind your clicks on likes and keys on comments. That’s the rule of Facebook common sense.