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Be media-savvy, not sorry

Interesting ideas about the future of the media have been thrown up ("Reality redefined / Disruption impacts how people obtain, handle information"; last Sunday).

The social media revolution has had a disproportionate impact on the way we read, shop, interact, think and make decisions.

Social media and mobile apps have given us greater power to access and spread information and opinions quickly, and with a wide reach.

We are not just consumers now, but also contributors and service providers.

While we laud the new media technologies and their empowerment of the masses, what are the drawbacks or unintended consequences?

Phrases like "information overload", "hyper-connected" and "mobile zombie" have started to gain traction.

Adults were put to shame when a 12-year-old boy stepped forward to help accident victims when they were too busy snapping photos ("Boy, 12, helps accident victims as passers-by snap photos"; June 2).

Every invention or new development brings with it opportunities and risks. Among the questions we need to ask ourselves are:

  • How do we sift through the information and avoid the pitfalls of falsehood, superficiality, rumours or bias?
  • How to make sure we don't just read what's trending or what reinforces our views, thereby closing our minds to other possibilities?
  • How to grow our imagination instead of being spoon-fed by visuals?
  • How do we safeguard ourselves from scammers, sexual predators and ideological extremists?
  • How do we prevent incendiary content from snowballing into mass hysteria or even violence?
  • How to make ourselves put the devices away when our loved ones need our attention?
  • Do we really need to browse our social media feeds, reply to chats or watch TV shows when walking or crossing the road?
  • Do we have real friends or just online ones?

We have to find a way to get the most out of this revolution without compromising our safety, health, relationships, mental sharpness and general well-being.

Ng Poh Leng (Madam)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on July 31, 2016, with the headline 'Be media-savvy, not sorry'. Print Edition | Subscribe