ByÂ Ankit Dwivedi:
This is new, yet predictable. This seems successful in its entirety, though could be meaningless. This is enormous, though could be even without a reasonable base. This is the new age of internet activism by youth in India.
The incident of brutal gang rape that occurred in capital city on December 16, 2012 and fortunately got reported by the mainstream media drew huge reactions in the cyber world. The flooding of tweets, statuses, photos and posts emerged as early as news came in and became the subject of attention for all the internet users in India. Right from condemning the incident to giving minute details, from providing backgrounder for the incident to legal issues, from copy pasting propaganda to emotional outbursts and from provocative messages to suggesting solutions, people spent significant time to vent out their emotions and ideas on public platforms to show their concern.
However there is no reality check in picture, whether the people ‘showing’ concern are really that concerned. Whether they would have reported or commented on the issue in the same manner if it would not have been highlighted or if their peers would not have done the same. Whether ‘showing’ virtual concern is a part of virtual social responsibility and a means of building up a ‘concerned’ social image catching up with the peers active in cyber activism. Whether those who project their ideas on online platforms are equivocal and equally active in real life for the issue they are voicing. These questions put forth serious accusations on those who want to join sides of concerned citizens by mere online activity.
I am confused to see such activism in cyber space. I am further confused where should I land in this ‘concerned’ virtual world. Absence of any online reaction from my part is leading my friends and people to believe that I am not aware or not bothered or preoccupied in my misleading activities or I am hiding away from harsh realities of such criminal activities. I feel pressurized by the provocation to share content and compulsion to participate in online activities created by my peers to join their sides and to be perceived as a sensible and concerned human.
I feel further confused by witnessing hypocrisy of those who project a virtual image of theirs in contrast to their real world presence. Men involved in bullying and eve teasing are posting content about respecting women.
Internet activism is marked by availability of enormous content online and possibility to share instantly to a global audience. Thus online movement on social networking is taking shapes of propaganda where there is no control over authenticity of data presented, validity of facts and credibility of the presenter. An interesting thing to note is that while sharing concern people tend to align themselves with the rest while, at the same time they try to distinguish themselves from the rest and create a ‘ I am different’ identity of themselves. Many of the self-created posts start with a criticism of other ideas, people and methodologies, while a different approach is presented as superior and only way a possibility should be perceived.
A similar concern is regarding the perish ability of such activism. Such activism could be a part of viral tendencies which die out in same manner as they breed.
An incident of rape and the inhuman treatment was not new for the Indian society. Any daily newspaper in any part of India reports at least 10 cases of sexual harassments and assaults on women in every district nearly every week. Such incidents have now become a part of routine life and daily news and most of us either wish to ignore or simply ignore these daily incidents because of lack of concern or unwillingness to make an effort for change. It is ironical to see a sea of people professing online activism, while just a handful of people working and advocating issues in real life.
Even then, I am happy to witness and observe an online tide against crime on women. But, I further wish to see people putting forth, I support the ‘cause’ rather ‘I support’ the cause.
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