Some musings on the circling social media patter..
|Did you know that Nehru was a USSR agent to sabotage Indian Union? Did you hear about the chemical in papaya that can cure cancer? Ever heard mint can reduce your sperm count? If you begin your day by swiping through the whatsapp messages, you must have heard one or more of similar messages. And I am sure there are many in this crowd who is wondering if one of those is true. With the emergence of cheaper communication, gossip has gotten louder. It has gotten so loud that it has started to eclipse facts.
All of you here would agree that among the factoids you see, there are few which you clearly know are false and few you dont know, but wants to be true. And the links that fall in the later group gets shared and the former gets ignored. It is easy to pass on than to verify or debunk. By this process, the circling links evolves into a pile of fantasies and propaganda.
Well, as long as we are righteous in the real world, why should we care about what goes on in the social networks? I wish things were that simple. In the words of Harvard law professor Samuel Warren, "Gossip, is no longer the resource of the idle and the vicious, but has become a trade which is pursued with industry as well as effrontery". There was a time when it was the duty of vigilant and scrupulous newspapers to lead the society, but now, that is the duty of each and everyone of us. We live in a democracy, we have to make informed decision, not misinformed decision. The harm of doctored facts reaching citizens affects all aspects of our life, from cervix to civics.
That leaves us with the question, what should we do. We have to take the responsibility of each of our clicks, we have to realize that at the other end of our screen, lies the entire world. The idea of six degrees of separation states that any two persons on this world is separated only six degrees of "friends of friends". That means, the most distant man from you on this planet is only six shares away from seeing your post. So verify, don't vilify; react, don't recline; check before you click and above all, remember, the cost of freedom is eternal vigilance.