I’m ‘Disgusted’ By How Social Media Is Used To Play Politics Over People’s Lives

Posted on April 14, 2016 in Society

By Pillai Vishnu:

A few days ago, a major tragedy occurred in God’s own country, Kerala, where there was a mishap when there was an explosion caused by fireworks, brought to celebrate that same god. The incident caused a fatality of more than 100, and many more were injured. Now, a couple of days later, when everyone is debating, and rightly so, about banning fireworks, or lapses on the part of the Temple’s trust, I have something else to talk about.

In the wee hours of the morning, when the news of the incident broke out, I, like everyone, tried to check through Facebook if my friends were safe and in general to know more about the incident. What I saw made me flinch and disgusted at the fact that people can stoop to such low levels, even in the wake of such massive tragedies.

I first saw a tweet shared by someone saying, and I will quote, “Big Bomb Explosion by CPM Muslim Terrorists in #Kollam Puthingal Devi Temple, hundreds of poor Hindu Devotees killed & 1000s injured”. I was ashamed to be a human because I would be sharing that category with the person who tweeted this!

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In the wake of such a huge tragedy, how can the first response of any person be to take advantage of the situation, and create communal disharmony? I mean, forget about the fact that the statement might have been completely baseless. Can you imagine the implications of a couple of hotheaded religious fanatics taking the tweet seriously? (I assume all those who follow this group are, as I don’t see any logical reason to follow them.) There could be more bloodshed. Isn’t this inciting violence? Shouldn’t this be seditious? How can they spread such lies, and serious ones, too, and nothing happen to them?

Later on in the day, when most of the people were trying to get the blood donation drive going (as we had heard there was a shortage), I took to Facebook to spread the news. Here, again, I found another post that, maybe, was not as dangerous but was equally disgusting.

There was a post with a picture of the PM of our country, leaving for Kollam, and it was captioned, and I quote again, “PM modi leaves for kollam with team of doctors, whereas pappu and kejri yet to decide from which caste the victim…”. The post would have been absolutely fine if it ended at “doctors”, but it didn’t, and that’s reflective of the times we live in.

The idea to politicise, to score brownie points over the opposition (I am assuming ‘pappu’ is Rahul Gandhi and ‘kejri’ is Arvind Kejriwal) at a time when people are running around to arrange blood, just shows how insensitive people have become in these times. Compassion seems to be something that belonged to another generation.

It also shows how politically charged the times we live in have become. Everything and anything can be politicised, be it a national disaster or even something as trivial as a slogan. Sides are taken, and online wars begin. There is no space to oppose, there are no more grey areas. If you don’t agree, you are from the other side and you are a traitor, anti-national and what not.

When all those people died, and many more were suffering, no one cared who came or who went. All that the people wanted to know was how many people could be saved; what we need to save them; and how we can save them. That is exactly what the people concerned had in their mind.

Actually, for once, when all the politicians came together, irrespective of their party, religious and caste differences to work together to help the people, social media was divided. They were still political, they were still religious. This is a very dangerous trend and we shouldn’t ignore it. This is important because it shows how divided people can act even in the face of such a huge tragedy. Is this the India you and I dreamt of?

If it is not, make sure you don’t let people who post such things go scot-free. Report them, to Facebook and also to the police. I do not think it would be hard to find the people behind these handles. Once these people are caught and brought to justice, I am sure it will act as a deterrent for such acts in future. It’s time to be intolerant because, to such tweets and posts, there is no other way and frankly they don’t deserve anything better.

Featured image source: Flickr/Jason Howle (modified).

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