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Let Us Get Our Act together

I am a 1990s kid. And 1990s was a good time for the adults of my age.

We were between 12-15 years of age, in school. The days used to start with getting up early, running to school, homework and cricket in evening and back to bed. Occasional scolding by mothers and regular discipline by fathers- life was good. There was a routine. There was a plan. And hence there were lesser troubles and lesser hectic schedules.

And there were lesser rumours.

You get the idea, don’t you? Don’t you think there is lot of negativity around these days? Rumours, false gossips are spreading way too fast. News is written and told without even checking the facts, fed to the gullible who does not think for a second before forwarding to ten other people. And if there is something which is being shared by masses, there is an agenda behind it. The reason can be communal, patriotic or political. But you can be assured; there is a reason behind the good message. “PM Modi declared best Prime Minister by UNESCO.” Seriously guys? Before Modi, did you ever hear of this kind of award? Use your head at least. Don’t sacrifice it in the name of patriotism.

So, who should we blame for the mess that we are witnessing? Certainly, the facilitator is the culprit (that is what we have been reading). Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter should be banned. We were normal people. Things were going fine before social media and instant messaging came into our lives and, I dare say, made an instant fool of us. Government should close them down so that we can carry on with pre social media era. We don’t want changes. We cannot accept changes.

This argument has its own pros and cons. As much as Facebook and Twitter has helped people in connecting with each other and bridged down distances and made information sharing easier; they have not done their bit when it comes to stopping hoax news and fake facts (cool. I invented a new oxymoron). The reactions and assurances from them have been slow and without criticising them too much about this, I can safely sum it up that they could have done better.

But this is not about what the technology should have done. This is about what we humans could do and should have done.

If I dare use the word ‘mess’ for what is happening around, I believe the users of the social media, we, need to take more responsibility. Why do we need to share every now and then the viral speeches of the ‘dharm gurus? Or the conflict between two communities on where they should have a temple and a mosque? Or the picture of a bald baby and her mother asking for donation from the world community?  

I can only see one reason for this- you believe what you share and want your friends and followers to start believing the same. Now, the first part is Ok. Your personal beliefs are your own and you have full right to exercise them. The second thing- making people see things which are, mildly put, provocating is not right. You have beliefs, religious views, opinions- good. But others are not wrong. I am a Hindu and I am proud of it. That does not mean that I hate Muslims, despise Christians or pity Jainis (although I do pity Jainis. Nobody should be barred from eating chicken and having booze).

Or you are trying to tell people that you are a good human being. That is fantastic. May the goodness lives in you for eternity. But then, why does one need Facebook or Whatsapp for that? It will be very nice of you if you can share your goodness with the people whom you interact with. They will feel gratitude towards you and thank you 10 times. The guy on Facebook will not care about you. He does not even know when was the last time he met you.

Unfortunately, the social media has given lot of unwanted authority to average Raju who is normally busy in office and personal life. And the more unfortunate thing is that from the darkest corner of his room, Raju share/forwards news/rumours without giving second thought. He does not even second check them. One like and his face lit up. 2 friends shared- Raju thinks he is right. It is a different thing that in the office or public meeting; Raju refrains from airing the same thoughts. Why? Because then he will be judged. People will talk about him and Raju cannot let them know that he thinks this way. Hell, he cannot even make arguments to support his views. But in the evening, he will let people know through his social media account. There will be no counter argument there. He will not reply to messages for which he does not have answer. He can remain anonymous in his own way (ironic for social media users).

I am not running away from the reality. And I acknowledge that the mutual harmony is not in the best of state at the moment. But I am sure I can very well do with less negative news or apparently, no news. This is one reason why I have stopped my subscription to a normal Indian daily and moved on to business newspapers. And I admire people who have the guts to buy Mid Day and find news in that bunch between the advertisements. If Olympics ever planned to have treasure hunt in the games; they should go and represent India.

Let us not forget that the underlying characteristics for a harmonious and peaceful society is only one thing- the human beings. We may go and establish colonies on Mars; what matters is how we behave. If everyone starts making himself accountable to his actions, there won’t be much conflict to happen.

Let’s make that happen. Let us get our act together.


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