ByÂ Nihal Parashar:
I wrote a dissertation titled ‘Building of a Communal State in a Virtual World: Hindu-Muslim relation seen through the lens of YouTube and Facebook’. I was trying to interrogate the role of Social Media platforms in the ongoing ‘war’ between the fascists of the two religions. While working on the dissertation I stumbled upon various Facebook pages and YouTube videos which propagated violence. The question which comes to mind is shall we try to ban these pages? But the bigger question is how socially relevant these pages are? If there is a hate page on a certain social media platform, it simply signifies that there is hate in the society as well. The spill over of societal issues could be seen on these platforms. The Facebook pages, with numerous ‘likes’, justify that they are only tip of the iceberg. The problem lies somewhere else. This reminds me of a couplet by renowned Urdu poet Josh Malihabadi which says, ‘Zeb ye deta nahin sarkaar ko, paaliye bimaariyon ko maariye bimaar ko’ (This does not suits government when it kills the people affected with a disease but does nothing to eradicate the disease).
Today I came across another such page. The title of the page is ‘Karz apna chukana hai, Babri Masjid wahin banana hai’, loosely translates in English as ‘We need to pay back by building Babri Mosque at the same place’. It was time to revisit my thesis and add few more notes.
The era in which we live is extremely complex in nature. The extraordinary problems are of varied forms which certainly requires extraordinary answers. We did not inherit a peaceful society from the previous generation. The previous generation was also not fortunate enough to inherit a perfect society from their predecessors. It is less likely that we are going to present a better society to the future generations. But this does not mean that we all must stop looking for better answers to questions of the present era.
The Communal aspect of the Social Media platforms is a result of the dissatisfaction in the society. There are few similarities in the pages which claim to represent different religions. The administrator of most of the pages lack sense of humour (they make you laugh at times although for a different reason altogether) and poses a great sense of anger. The posts are written to stimulate a feeling of hatred for the ‘other’ community. They use each and every possible mythological symbol for the purpose. The admin and followers do not hesitate to turn most of the current social and political developments into an occasion to revisit the history and look for reasons to criticize the behaviour of the ‘others’. They take solace in the religious past to condemn the act of others.
Apart from these, the most common similarity for such pages in India is Narendra Modi. You will find posts related to him on all the Hindutva pages as well as Islamic fascists pages, with obvious love and hate on the respective pages.
The social media gives a sense of pseudo-anonymity to the person on the front end. You are hero for the moment. And fighting is an extremely honourable job, as per our social and religious norms. Are we living in 10000 B.C? What is the importance of civilization if it is not able to generate the basic understanding that fighting is not going to solve any problem. A good hearted soul said that non- violence is older than the mountains and oceans. Seems our civilization has taken wrong route and a peaceful world seems a distant dream.
Rise of communalism on different social media platforms is going to shape many young individuals, still in early teenage, that may come across certain posts which may plant the seed of prejudice in their fertile minds. The human mind is amazing, especially in the early years. It distinguishes right and wrong in a very young age and for the entire life it only justifies the decision of the tender age. It needs to be extremely elastic to revaluate its decision in a later year. If an individual has a certain point of view on a certain issue it is totally related to his personal journey. Social media may act as a tool for the same. But in no circumstance it can be the culprit.
What must be done to take care of the rise of communalism on the social media platforms? Shall we agree with an Indian minister’s idea of asking Facebook and Google to screen the content on the websites? This does not have a very simple answer as well. Like all extraordinary questions it deserves an extraordinary answer.
‘We need an inclusive society’– Is this an accepted statement? We need to answer this. If it is an accepted statement then we certainly need to look for a community of peace-builders who believe in the humanitarian values. There will be the fascist forces to ridicule this idea. But an inclusive society will also accommodate them. No, I am not talking about utopia. I am talking about my society, which rests its hope on you, O reader.