The Virtual Self – Social Media ‘weds’ I

Social media during its nascent days were designed to socialize, spread and connect mostly with friends who have spread out to various geographical locations. It used to be an equivalent of a mushy mushy love story being written over the internet, with no demons and villains nor twists or turns. All it did was extend a little bit of sweetness to life. In today’s time it is one of the most important activity that needs to be accomplished after getting up from bed, before retiring to bed and at times while at bed; ensuring our virtual social network is made aware of our thoughts, opinions, and preferences, at times, accompanied with the cost of sounding either condescending, stupid, naive or wise. Everybody and everything has to be on social media – right from the departure of flights to wishing someone in the family stationed in the next room to giving insights on issues hitherto unknown to the general 4G public.

Some people have used Social Media, some have abused it (propaganda based) while some still don’t know what to do with it. But one cannot deny the influence and reach of this medium. Through it, I can just harass and scare the shit out of a person residing in Bhabua or coax the mainstream media to report on a bizarre call that I received from the PMO while I was romancing with Alice in La La Land.

Probably in my living memory, never had the social media in the context of the Indian subcontinent was in such an excited state. A few years back may be, when during the India Against Corruption campaign, it felt like the entire nation both on the ground as well as in this virtual world were all united towards a common objective. What happened in the next few months was, politics became an everyday habit with people, who until then used to stay (or at least pretended) aloof from the political scenario – now having found an effective platform to raise their voice. A general awareness about our political denomination has been established. At present this virtual platform has evolved into a boiling cauldron, been responsible for causing a few riots in the real world – a couple of them in the otherwise docile state of Odisha.

Numerous posts: some laced with propaganda, others with agenda, few from a neutral point of view and too many of them exploiting their freedom of expression frivolously.

Innumerable comments: allegations and counters, opinions and disagreements, personal attacks to dignified responses.

After seeing all through this, there are a few social media stance (irrational ones according to me) that people take that has kept me thinking –

Why whenever a govt or a party, both of which are public entities and represent the people, is/are questioned, others with emotional sentiments question back the individual on personal parameters? If staying away from non-pro Government channels (NDTV or CNN IBN they say, are certified ones at present, though I believe all media channels in our country are fully or partially biased) or social media can just help us see a rosy picture of a developing India then the person is not only putting a sick WhatsApp joke in support of his/her argument but at the same point of time is myopic. For me, every citizen should question any policies or mindset that isn’t ethical or logical. If the country was really progressing beyond the TV channels then I would like to know – 
Why our health care spending is amongst the bottom 5 of all countries? 
Why in our agriculture sector people are just dependent on hope and mercy? 
Why our villages need to be turned into cities only to become developed? 
Why our environmental regulations day in and day out are being flouted? 
Why don’t we take cognizance of the endemic called ‘rape’? 
Why our education system is still not holistic enough to instill large scale freedom of thought such that people learn by knowing and not by mugging up?

Yes, we can give examples of brighter sides of India in each of the sectors. But an output like APJ Abdul Kalam from this system is not a counter. The question is why we don’t have many like him? Where are our researchers, teachers?

There has been some fancy renaming that has also been going on to label all kinds of people that do not make sense to those who are flying at the two extreme wings of our socio-political sphere. And even out of the political context also, whenever it comes to talking about poetry, cinema, art or the basic sense of associating one with qualitative creations and personalities, there will be a handful of people who would wear the shield of a common man – just rejecting the entire discussion as intellectual. I wonder what greatness it is to mark yourself safe on FB with the mediocrity tag, just like what many of the netizens do in case of natural/man-made calamities. The moment it comes to all materialistic well-being people will love to flaunt their classy tag while never hesitating to travel that extra mile to rise one up on their self-made social ladder. I wonder if the hypocrisy in them actually believes in being a common man. They will never buy a mud house, travel in the general class, spend leisure time qualitatively on books and important activities or visit the store with “all items at same price” for their clothes. Of course, when it comes to the nourishment of mind their entire existence will preach to be frugal and leave the better pie of learning and education for the weaker sections of the society.

All of a sudden every Jack and Jill is quoting from history to give their side of justification on any outrageous idea being shoved on to the general public. Trust me we all have been a poor reader of history. It doesn’t begin from the point when a new age leader starts narrating it from a high rise. Anecdotes and writings are available plentifully and of course, they are not served on a platter in social media. One will have to take some trouble to read from books and validate it with archives.

Nationalism is not anyone person’s prescribed dosage of some mumbo jumbo formulae. The brave soldiers are doing their job being fully aware of their duties and its risk. So is the fireman, the doctors, the policeman, the traffic police person and each such person committed to the public service is having their fair share of sacrifices. Using our soldiers every now and then for political justifications is disgraceful and a sign of weakness. Let’s offer them the dignity they deserve. But yes no one is above the law. The same defense forces are also marred by corruption since ages. So let’s just talk sense as and when required instead of high octane rhetoric.

Well, it’s not practical to expect something in terms of results from a govt which is three years old – these problems are perennial and has been spreading its rotten roots everywhere. But the sad part is this govt or that – all, invariably, do not focus on the core issues with an intention to eradicate them. A fix or a patch here and there happens. What one needs to evaluate is the intention and the willingness in addressing the core issues. And it is a duty of every resourceful citizen to time and again remind our lawmakers and mobilize public opinion to bring their attentions towards these core issues. Because remember, the majority of Indians who bear the brunt of such faulty and half-hearted policies/schemes are not on social media. Only a minuscule percentage is; and so, let you be the voice of these less privileged ones.


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