Before Dr.APJ’s sad demise, my social media timelines were completely flooded by people’s opinions on either Shashi Tharoor’s debate at the Oxford union or on the composition of the Indian monetary policy committee (this was restricted to the intellectual and the pseuds, of course) – some praises, some not. Aakar Patel, a columnist managed to gather an ensemble of rage through this piece where he compliments Shashi Tharoor on his oratory exuberance while respectfully differing with Tharoor’s opinion based on data. I’ll refrain from taking sides here simply because I don’t have greater authority over the subject than these two gentlemen. But what thoroughly disturbed me was the barrage of hate comments on this article. As you will see, most of these people are not arguing based on facts, but taking poorly articulated emotional stabs at Aakar’s views. While having a counter view and argument is healthy, pursuing it on a tangential plane (rational vs irrational) is futile.
There is a strong positive underlying national sentiment behind all these hate comments which is unfortunately manifesting itself so negatively that people continue to spread hatred in the name of democratization of social justice. All of us have always had opinions about everything and before the advent of social media, luckily for us, some of us were able to judiciously voice it. Today, we are greatly empowered since the social media has given a voice to all of us irrespective of race, color, region, caste, gender, etc. With great power comes great responsibility. Unfortunately, we are only assuming responsibility for the delivery (phrasing) of our opinions, rather than the content or the opinions themselves.
From my own personal experience, I saw a TED Talk about gender imbalance that really made me angry about why we (women) continue to victimize ourselves in modern societies and cannot start celebrating our gender and move ahead. This was a thought that came to my head based on an article I had read about rock climbers who use the gaps between rocks and small stones to push themselves forward even if it’s just an inch or two rather than worry about the risk of falling down. I decided to share it on Twitter but guess what? Thanks to the 140 character limit on twitter, I’d omitted the context of urban societies in my tweet and of course, such a crime is simply inexcusable on social media, right? Unsurprisingly, I was penalized and trolled for phrasing my thoughts inaccurately and that too, sadly, by a woman.
Unfortunately, kindling even an inkling of reaction from the online universe is a mere acknowledgement of ones existence today. If I tweet (apparently, it’s also known as preaching nowadays) something and don’t see a rage (positive or negative) in the next 30 seconds, it is considered an immediate disapproval of my social existence and hence, in order to seek approval from the vast emptiness of the online social space, I re tweet existing tweets with my own hate pickle on the side. What incredibly sad lives are we leading, turning into social parasites seeking mutual validation for our voices with little heed to what those voices are actually saying. Undoubtedly, the explosion of social media reach has definitely given a voice to many that lacked one but unfortunately, we are now beginning to move towards having to silence them again – all for World Peace.