South Africa ranked 22nd out of 23 countries in Microsoft’s Digital Civility Index (DCI) 2017.

The DCI is way of seeing how rampant negative behaviour is online and in the case of South Africans we could all stand to be a bit kinder.

Microsoft looks at four main areasĀ : Intrusive contact, behavioral, sexual and reputational.

These areas include acts such as discrimination, cyberbullying, revenge porn and other forms of frankly disgusting behaviour.

While our behaviour has improved in some areas since the 2016 report there is still an epidemic of nastiness spreading throughout our nation.

Unwanted sexting for instance has an alarmingly high occurrence rate where 27 percent of South African respondents had received an unwanted sext compared to 21 percent globally.

Microsoft’s report reveals that 89% of respondents had experienced online nastiness in some form or another and worse still (yes it gets worse) the perpetrators of this nastiness are often people the respondents knew.

As many as 44% of respondents said they knew the perpetrator prior to the abuse happening.

Abusers anonymous

Perhaps its the shield of the glass in front of them that gives people the idea that saying anything they want online is okay but more often than not words have consequences and the DCI looks at those as well.

One in four respondents (26 percent) said they had become depressed after suffering abuse online and 13 percent had thoughts of suicide. Of the respondents aged between 13 and 17, 31 percent of those teens said they had suicidal thoughts after being abused online in some form or another.

We quite clearly have a problem but thankfully there is a solution.

Be nice to each other.

Yes it sounds esoteric and drowned in 60’s hippy philosophy but there is evidence that this works.

The ease of being nice

The older generation between the ages of 50 and 74 appear to have the right attitude to online interactions.

When asked how they behave online 87 percent of respondents said they treated other people with respect and diginity and you know what that led to?

The highest level of civil behaviour online out of all age groups.

Millennials (18 – 34) however are the least civil.

So does this mean that you can now run out and tell millennials how terrible they are? No because that would defeat the purpose of what Microsoft is showing us here.

We need to be better to each other and it starts with doing away with the notion that people on the internet are not real or that there are no consequences to our actions.

Your words have an impact and we could all stand to be a bit nicer to each other.

For those that need some guidance on how to be nicer Microsoft has a few tips and I hope that next year when Microsoft releases its third DCI report we’ll have something to celebrate.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]