TECH TUESDAY: Does social media fuel racism?

As a nation, all must break the shackles of racism.

Opinion by Bruce Douglas

Social media has become a breeding ground for racism.

Penny Sparrow, Andre Slade, Ntokozo Qwabe, Dawie Kriel and Riaan Lucas all made headlines for racist remarks, posts and actions – but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Countless more racist utterances go unpunished daily.

It’s like the old saying goes: “How does every racist joke begin? Looking around to see who is close enough to hear.”

On social media, that voice-in-the-back-of-the-head is missing.

As a country, South Africa went from blatant racism to racism behind closed doors, and now the ‘freedom’ of social media has brought it to the fore again.

Anyone who believes race doesn’t matter in this country is a fool.

Whether it’s clutching the handbag a little tighter when someone passes by, or assuming a person is a bad driver based on skin colour, no nation has completely moved beyond racism.

And social media is where the bad seeds seem to accumulate.

People of all races and cultures, with all sorts of agendas and beliefs, and all sorts of intentions, think a screen and keyboard, smartphone or tablet grants them amnesty from saying what they want on social media platforms.

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Hard fact – it doesn’t.

Like the above names and doubtless many more will discover, the anonymity of the Internet only stretches so far, and sooner or later, words have a way of catching up to us.

Yet people still spew hate speech and racist remarks.

No one is born a racist; the attitude of setting one race higher than another is something bred down through generations, whether through ages-old hatred, past experience or simple plain ignorance.

Hopeless as it may seem, the ugly face of racism must be exposed.

The cases above are proof that intolerance and hatred will no longer be tolerated, and to remain silent is to be complicit.

Bruce Douglas

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