Oct 02, 2013

    Think before sharing a video online

    SHOOT and post online first, and think later.

    That is what social-media experts say is the attitude of many people towards taking videos with their mobile devices and sharing them publicly online - sometimes without considering the consequences.

    On Saturday, a five-minute video showing an apparently mentally distressed woman creating a scene in a supermarket found its way online.

    The footage shows the woman walking around, with the floor littered with what looked like smashed eggs.

    Yelling at the top of her voice, she could be heard telling bystanders to call the police, and asking people if they knew whether she was a lawyer, presenter or emcee, among other things.

    The video went viral and has been shared over 1,000 times on Facebook.

    Some netizens made snide remarks about the woman, but others lambasted those responsible for filming the incident and sharing it online for being insensitive.

    Asked about the motivations behind sharing such videos, Ms Belinda Ang, a social-media consultant at thinkBIG Communications, said people may derive a "sense of superiority" from being a civilian journalist.

    Dr Brian Lee, head of the communication programme at SIM University's School of Arts and Social Sciences, said that, similar to a news tabloid, "users tend to post more controversial and 'juicier' videos to help boost the 'viewership' of their postings".

    Dr Lee added that users who receive more "likes" see themselves as getting some form of recognition from the social-media community.

    But few would think of the consequences that might arise from the videos they post.

    He said studies have shown that it is not a phenomenon unique to Singapore, and that it is a serious social issue in places like China.

    Ms Ang did not see it entirely as a social-media problem, explaining that the convenience of social media has "amplified" human nature.

    She noted that technology has added a level of convenience in how something is heard through the grapevine, compared to coffee-shop talk in the past.

    "I think a lot of people do that - shoot first, put it (online) and think later," Ms Ang said. "I don't think everyone who shoots has bad intentions, but they probably didn't think so much at that point (in time)."

    For Ms Mahita Vas, 50, who has struggled with mental illness for at least 30 years, the video struck a chord.

    "I saw myself in this woman," said Ms Vas, a mental-health advocate and author of Praying To The Goddess Of Mercy.

    Quoting a friend, she said people have to ask themselves "what kind of society we are, when taking a video of a woman having a meltdown trumps the instinct to help".