Some human right violation receive very less exposure while some receive over-exposure, but it has become more and more difficult for any violation to go unnoticed in this interconnected world where, according to Statista Inc., 2.34 billion people use social media worldwide. I have been using Facebook for many years now but mostly to stay connected with family and friends. It has only been about two months since I actively started participating in Twitter and in just this short time I have developed a great appreciation for the power of “hashtag”.
My journey started with the #ReleaseBahai7Now and #NotAnotherYear online campaign to raise awareness about the imprisonment of 7 Baha’i leaders who are among the many “prisoner of conscience” in Iran. Since then I have used many other #’s to add my voice to the clamor of tweets that seek to raise awareness. From #BlackLivesMatter and #NotInMyName that take a stand against violence in the name of religion and race to #HeForShe, #BasAbBahutHoGaya and #WhiteWednesdays that raise awareness about oppression of women; from #BaapWaliBaat and #EarlyMomentsMatter which is about the importance of a father’s role in early childhood to #ParisAgreement, #WorldEnvironmentDay, #WorldTurtleDay and #WorldOceansDay that raise awareness about global warming and depleting biodiversity; from #MenstrualHygieneDay to #WorldNoTobaccoDay to #WorldDayAgainstChildLabour; from #AfricansRising to #Brexit to SorryDay2017, I have rarely missed a chance to say something about every trending cause.
Since I am working in the field of Education and Development, I have also been using other #’s more regularly. Hashtags such as #GlobalGoals, #SDGs, #Education and #edchat have helped me connect with people in these fields and learn from the worldwide discourse. Following influential people in these fields have also exposed me to concepts and ideas that I was not aware of.
Not all experiences have been good. As news of mob-lynching started to come to light in different parts of India, I also got to see to what mob-lynching (herd-mentality) looks like in social media. Ironically, in the name of #NotInMyName people started spewing venomous tweets at each other in the name of different political parties and religion with added slogans of “anti-national”. No one could be neutral. You were either with or against. In my view, #NotInMyName was not educative but only divisive. I wondered if the occurrences of mob-lynching would only increase. I wondered if the people who were tweeting would also be screaming “maar *** ko, maar!” (Hit the ****, hit!) in real life if they saw a mob attacking someone, or worse, they too would add a blow or two to not feel left out. I have seen similar divisive comments related to #BlackLivesMatter.
I am not sure if anything I have done in Twitter has made this world any better. I am not sure if Twitter is only beneficial for people and organizations that have something to sell or is making money from online traffic while the rest of us fill the remaining void. I am not sure as yet and have much to learn. Sometimes I do feel that something like Twitter has great potential to be used to bring about positive changes (or maybe it already has). In some countries it is already being used effectively to influence policies. What might be missing is a discourse on policies and an effort to understand someone else’s point of view. What might be missing is tweeting about issues rather than talking about personalities. What might be missing is courtesy irrespective of what your point of view and consideration for the passionate devotion people have towards certain things. What might be missing is acceptance of the fact that we don’t know everything and that every idea might have something good and something bad. Each one of us has a role to play and I will continue to believe that my voice is important but it is never more important than other voices.
Of course, it is not all serious with Twitter. #’s such as #CompostSchmovies, #MonsterAMovie, #SummerFilms, #ElderlyBeatlesSongs, #WrittenOnMyTombstone and #BadInterviewAnswers allows me to share my funny side in just a few characters. I also share different inspiring and motivational tweets, sometimes my own and sometimes quote from other people, under #’s such as #MondayMotivation, #TuesdayThoughts, #WednesdayWisdom and so on.