What we need now: Social Responsibility vs. Freedom of Expression

Social responsibility in social work perspective is an ethical framework that suggests an individual or organization to purposefully and obligatorily act for the benefit of the society. In this light, I may say that all the things we think and do as an individual, should always aim to respond to the larger scale of people or groups. This idea makes us accountable of what we do in all platforms available: social networking sites (social media), books and all others.

Freedom of expression on the other hand, is a basic human right every individual possesses. However, this freedom cannot be guaranteed in absolute because of its limitations. Yeah, freedom with limitations is still freedom in the context of human rights. While having the online non-credit course on Human Rights for Open Societies by Utrecht University, I understood that although we have the freedom to express, we are free to express under limited conditions: as long as we do not discriminate and violate other forms of freedom, we are free to express—simple to explain yet complex to understand.

Having defined both concepts of social responsibility and freedom of expression, personally I think that one of the limitations of our freedom to express must be social responsibility. And it is good. It is good that our freedom to express is limited and guided by social responsibility.

If you think and believe that you should be accountable of all the things you think about, do and say to others, then you cannot just target someone or some groups of your opinions especially if your opinions imply discrimination, false accusations or just generalizing a simple idea. Think what people will feel about what you are going to say, even if it is your right to express. Will the society benefit from your opinion? As the philosophy of the Threes Gates of Speech always reminds us before speaking out our opinions, let’s ask ourselves: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

Yes. Think before anything. Be socially responsible.

Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc. are examples of social networking sites where we can be anyone and anything; where we can freely express ourselves behind different identities. It has been years ago when we acknowledged the usefulness of these platforms in our daily life especially the business sectors and in education. However, from being benevolent human beings, we are now starting to evolve into something horrible: a savage beast attacking anyone and anything we can lay our eyes upon in social media. The humaneness is slowly fading; humanity is losing its meaning.

Earlier today, I saw a post—a photo of a celebrity while wearing a bikini. She was obviously on a beach. The comments on that particular post triggered this reaction from me. A female Facebook user commented: “Mag-porn ka na lang, Maine. Sisikat ka pa. Nalalaos na kasi ang AlDub mo. Hahahaha. Sorry. Hindi lang talaga kita idol.” [Just do porn, Maine. You’ll be famous since AlDub is losing its popularity. Hahahaha. Sorry. You’re not just my idol.]

To think that the celebrity just posted a photo of herself in a bikini while on a beach, and from the same sex, a woman, just commented her opinion about that celebrity to turn into making porn films instead to gain more popularity… I don’t understand two things:

  1. A woman, pulling down another woman.
  2. A person, saying rude things to other person just because she is entitled of her freedom of expression and social media is a tool to exercise that power.

It’s true, Spiderman. That a great power, such as having to freely express yourself nowadays, needs great responsibility, too.

In the end, being socially responsible in social media and in all platforms available is what we need right now. Millennials overuse their power to express and criticize; older generations justify their opinions and criticisms by how long they have been living here on Earth; everybody creates hate and division through keyboard wars…

What else are we going to see in the next few years?

-egjb

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