Social Media Wars and Lockdown: Making Peace With A Lowered New Normal?

Trolling and negative posting is at an all-time high and so is people’s engagement in issues which are not worth their time and effort. What is the real role of a Netizen in such a debacle?

Social Media threat

Life without a social media profile is next to impossible these days. With almost everyone on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, communication is at an all-time high.

Smartphones and gizmos have become extensions of our identity, moreso after the world went into a lockdown. With work and play both entangled in a world of virtuality, we root for notifications to stay up to date.

All of us, sooner or later, have developed a Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), due to which we know everything that is going on- from the death of a noted gangster with political connections to banning of apps, to every trend and debate that ensues on Twitter.

From being informed, social media has given us the freedom to opinionate. Sadly, these opinions are not well-intended, and reek of cultural loopholes, sexism and insecurities which damage the mental health of those who are targeted, and also ruins the general atmosphere of the medium.

Recently, there has been a surge in the trend of stand-up comedy in India. A female comedian invited controversy when she joked about the statue on Chatrapati Shivaji, and the entire social media stood divided on whether she was right or not. With some ‘nationalists’ giving open rape threats to the girl even as she apologised and took down the video of the standup gig, others joined the foray to defend her, only to use abusive language for the accused Shubham Mishra.

The accused has been arrested by Vadodara Police, but it leaves us questioning about the social media discourse in India these days.

The female standup comedian is not the first, and sadly not the last girl to be abused online. Various journalists and politicians are abused, slurred and slut-shamed on a habitual basis. What makes this even worse is how our conditioning makes us use anatomical and sexist abuses to get back at someone.

We have ample education and civilisation to correct ourselves, and gone are the days when Indians complained about being kept in the dark about intimacy. With prominent web content and pop culture, plus the outreach of the internet providing unlimited access to adult content, are we deprived of sexual content to be using it as a slur or just too infatuated with anatomy to not know how to retaliate otherwise?

Biology explains that the sensitivity of the area or our general moulding as mammals makes humans no different from various species like chimpanzees who use sexual gestures to get back at their opponents. The question is, when will we stop being social animals and indeed be humans to utilise the privileges our society has developed?

Adjectification and using sexual or anatomical slurs to sound ‘cool’ or ‘accepted’ is something we must change sooner for the better, or we will stare at a civilisation that knows where to communicate but not how to effectively do so. By damaging others and our own emotional quotients, we are deepening the gender divide and propagating the ills of a society that should have diminished with human advancement.

By: Gauri Joshi

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