Author: Shivani Sharma
Student Of Information Science Engineering, BMS Institute of Technology & Management, Bengaluru
“Social media is not a media. The key is to listen, engage and build relationships.”
- David Alston
Today, a person with a smartphone in hand is the most knowledgeable person. Every sort of information is just one click away. You think about it, search for it and here it is visible on the 5.6 inches screen. With the vast developed market of smartphones and its features have ensconced the concept of to be heard, to be connected or the concept of to reach to a particular person or authority, in the users. One of such features is the easily accessible social media network. Basically, all of us have been enslaved by social media.
Once, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO & Founder of Facebook, marked that “When you give everyone a voice and give people power, the system usually ends up in a really good place.” But the question is are we aware of our powers? Are we aware of the consequences of our power?
At the moment, social media is not just a platform to socialize with people, to get to know each other or as they say, to shrink the distance between two or more people. Today, it is also about showcasing the talent of oneself; to market products by eliminating middlemen, providing brands to build a unique relationship with their customers and the strongest of all is to spread the news. News channels won’t be as fast as social media in spreading news. But as they say with great power comes great responsibility. So, with the power to share the news comes the responsibility to fact check the news.
Do you fact check the news you are sharing? The answer will be no for most of us. The rationale behind this has been analyzed by many of the psychologists around the globe. And what they say is that when a person with very strong opinions or beliefs, which they have developed over a while encounters a situation where their beliefs are being questioned then it is very hard for them to accept that the facts they have been leaning upon for so long are untrue. They find it insulting. Therefore, it is hard for us to fact check news which is depending upon our beliefs. And hence, whether real or fake, whether spreading positivity or negativity, many news does get VIRAL without being fact-checked.
Following is an instance to delineate the power of social media. The riot that occurred in D.J. Halli and adjoining areas in east Bengaluru on 11 August 2020. Which occurred over an incendiary Facebook post, posted by P. Naveen Kumar, nephew of MLA R. Akhanda Srinivasa Murthy, on his Facebook page. A complaint was lodged by Muzammil Pasha, a local SDPI leader. Police did leave to arrest Naveen but returned empty-handed which outraged about 200 people gathered outside D.J. Halli Police Station and about 1000 in front of MLA’s house. The mob vandalized not just the police station, MLA’s house and other properties. They vandalized and even burnt Naveen’s house leaving behind a horrifying environment from that midnight till many days as the Bengaluru Police imposed section 144 in the entire city.
We have always been taught that our actions should speak louder than our words. Despite that, what if we consider our words to be our actions too? That is what happens when our views, an incident is articulated on social media in such a manner that it impacts a lot of hearts and even manipulates the thought process of a lot of minds. For the time being, let’s consider Instagram. Instagram (or Insta or IG as per preferences) has an arena. Where the fight is not for “to be heard” instead the fights are amongst news, news on the same stories. Amidst this quarantine period, all of us encountered several such cases.
A girl weeping in a video and telling about how she was evicted by her house owners. And the dogs whom she takes care of were being tortured in the same. She gained a lot of sympathy and help. People kept alerting the police about the matter and asked for justice to be served. And then later more people related to matter unleashed a lot of the facts and then questioned the girl. Ending up with a very puzzled audience of hers, who supported her.
Before this, there was another viral case, labelled as “fake feminism”. A girl posted some stories about the incident which took place with her some years ago. She made allegations against a boy named Manav Singh. She said that she was molested by him and tried to rape her too, and she couldn’t share it before because she lacked support to bring this up. As her story went VIRAL people started a search for the alleged person. And as the people got to hold on his profile or so, they threatened, cursed Manav. He kept pleading that he is innocent. But he wasn’t heard. He was pressured to prove that he is not guilty. He couldn’t handle it and committed suicide by jumping from the 11th floor of the building. And later, as the investigation was held it was found that the girl made all wrong allegations along with some help. And, this was too a case of fake news with honest support.
For sure, the market of news and contents on social media is very strong-rooted and has the power to attract many. Even if there are “fakers” in the market or those who spread hatred amongst others, there is news that is real and is meant to be VIRAL. To highlight it, the instance of “Bois Locker Room” is appropriate. It took place on IG and was eliminated there itself as the girls who suffered and their supporters and well-wishers joined hands against it with conclusive proofs. Other cases, where people found guilty under animal lynching were condemned too. But Social media isn’t just a forum for all sorts of negativity. Here one’s creativity, excellence and achievements in any field are being recognized and praised even before any other networks. But the only fact that makes such news less viral is that the feeling of hatred, sadness is loud and overpowers the calming positive feelings. But the choice lies with us to choose what over what.
So? Shouldn’t we spread more positive news and ask others to do the same? Yes!! the truth should be heard and the justice against wrong should be served. But! shouldn’t we have a barrier in our minds and emotions too? The barrier which makes us give a second thought to what we just saw or to what we just heard. Shouldn’t we just do a fact check on the news or the contents and not just end up sharing them, because they met the demands or they fell under our beliefs, opinions, feelings or so? Should we mark the statements like “Let’s get this viral!!”? or shouldn’t we?
Please note that the views expressed above represent the opinions of the author. All the information on the website of Jus Rerum is published in good faith and for general information purpose only. We does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability and accuracy of this information.