My grandfather used to say, “Salah mashware se saare maslon ka hal nikal jaata hai (a proper discussion can solve all the issues and problems).”
No matter how complicated a situation, he would always root for a discussion and make everyone sit down and come to an understanding. He didn’t live to see the advent of social media and the exploitation of civil discourse on social media platforms by propagation of hate and trolling. I am of the firm belief that not all people behind the keyboard on social media, spend their time typing because they have to say something significant or something they believe in.
I believe with so much hate swarming around on social media, one needs to create boundaries for oneself when engaging with profiles spewing hate and trolling.
I witnessed two instances of online hate that I would like to talk about.
During the surgical strikes incident earlier this year, a major news daily reported that our Prime Minister was awake all night long without a glass of water while the strike took place. Shocked at the absurdity and uselessness of the report by no less than a major news daily, I shared the article with a rather abstract caption and a classmate from school days went on a bizarre rant describing how I should be made to stand in front of terrorists, be shot and how people like me were sick critics who knew only how to bark, amid a few other shabbily articulated but rather descriptive insults full of hate.
Normally, I would always take the discourse my grandfather had taught me – that of discussion and conclusion but there was nothing to be discussed here, it was a clear case of abuse and hate. I decided not to indulge, I did not reply.
I used the block feature later when the hate kept on pouring and it started affecting me, I blocked her to avoid the negativity as it was difficult for me to imagine that someone who I had grown up with, could hate me enough to wish death upon me. The thought just kept on playing repeatedly in my head. Blocking her helped. It was like getting rid of a body part that is infected, but you’re too emotional to get rid of it. Except, you feel relieved and thankful when you get rid of it eventually.
It all started in November, when me along with some of my friends from here and across the border, united by love for poetry, were planning two simultaneous poetry events in Delhi and Karachi – where we were planning to bring poets from both the countries together on both the platforms.
We were busy in promotions and were constantly putting up stories on Instagram and Facebook regarding the same, when this gentleman felt like giving us an uncalled invitation to shift to Pakistan. My friend chose to indulge with the gentleman with the same spirit we had chosen to carry out the event – that of countering hate with love. He was one of the very few examples among the lot who didn’t choose to understand, and chose hate instead and was blocked eventually.
I realized that not everyone is going to understand the power of dialogue on the internet, when there is the power of anonymity and one doesn’t have to look someone in the eye while saying something demeaning or hateful. One can misuse it to vent out the hate brewing in them on random people, not caring about the consequences of the same.
This is not synonymous to my Dada ji making everyone sit down in the same room, facing each other looking in the eye, to come to a conclusion. This is different, yet it can affect us deeply.
We luckily have an option to let love surround us instead of hate, by blocking people who are adamant to choose hate.
I realized I do not need to think twice before blocking people on the internet for spewing hate at me, for my own sake.
Later, a poetry video came up where I was reciting a poem about love called “Sarhad Paar Ki Mohabbat” and I countered hate by merely blocking people who chose to send hate and abuses across. I felt good by being surrounded by just love.
Features like block and report are weapons in the hands of the user and should be used without hesitation. This is not a permanent measure to counter hate of course, but it is important for our own well-being, so I would not take the blame for using the magic of block and report options and neither should you. Say no to hate, by shutting it out, by refusing to give it a voice in your life!