One of the most important aspects of social media, and one which is nearly never properly understood, is its ability to act as a mirror to the values of its users, and in a larger sense, their ability to accurately reflect the values and core beliefs of their country.
This message was brought home powerfully by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, when he urged citizens and residents not to harm the image of the UAE, when using social media. This is pertinent advice and must be accorded full cognisance, particularly because the era we live in is unprecedented for the presence of a global network of communication like never before — social media.
The inherent duality of social media has turned it into a post-technology transformation legend. Its ability to do good, or bad, is no longer the primary argument. We know that social media can disrupt, destabilise and divide with as much force as it can unite, support and heal people and societies. The urgency now is about how the latter aspect of social media can be made the dominant influence and this is precisely the import of Shaikh Mohammad’s message. His 10 guidelines for using social media reiterate the core precepts of communication, wherein the expressions of human thought are, intentionally, yoked to the higher good of society, the nation and its peoples rather than being narrow, detrimental pursuits of individual temperaments and their compulsions. The guidelines cover the full range of intentional positivity and emphasise knowledge to extend argument and logic in conversation, appreciation of beauty, desire to seek positive interaction with minds, cultures and societies, avoidance of offensive words and insulting thoughts, and a deep love for the UAE that underpins the communications at all times.
From the dawn of human evolution, every tool of communication, whether oral, written or visual, has held the power to build or destroy. What social media has done is to amplify this power to incalculable degrees. Much as it gives each individual the ability to speak their mind on just about anything, this advantage can also divest users of the virtues of reflection and introspection that are indispensable elements of human progress and self-advancement.
Shaikh Mohammad’s guidelines will serve as invaluable reminders of how to stay on the path of progress.