It is rightly said that danger is often lurking around the corner; or in the case of Social Media it often lurks around the next comment. I like to think of myself as a traditionalist. If I feel the urge to protest I would gladly take a sign and go picketing. However the advent and magnanimous growth of the internet has given birth to a deadly monster: Armchair Activism. Sounds harmless but take a moment and think about this monster that lives in society and no matter what you do you can never get rid of it. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.
Recently we saw the heartthrob of many, Mr.Aamir Khan, making a comment that hadn’t much thought going into it. And while I agree that the comment may not have been one of his best decisions yet, the mass lynching that ensued was neither expected nor completely logical. This is what the entire fiasco looked like to me:
Unfriendly Hindu Politician: “I will send my son to USA to study. He will definitely go to Harvard.”
Aamir Khan: “My wife thinks we should take our son abroad for his safety.”
Unfriendly Hindu Politician: “ZOMG HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT. MERA BHARAT MAHAAN AND ALL THAT. F.O AAMIR. GO TO SYRIA.”
I haven’t seen anything more ridiculous. Firstly, and I say this as a Social Media expert, venting on Facebook is not the same thing as going to a political representative and making yourself heard. People need to understand that while the reach of social platforms cannot be ignored, you still do not hold enough power to convict someone just because you are hypocrites. I ask all armchair activists this: “How many of you have the guts to talk to Aamir directly and say what you say online to his face?”. If you really think our country is the best in the world, which it’s definitely not, why not become active members of the government and work hard to improve it even further so no Indian ever thinks of leaving? Why not work hard to make India one of those countries where people want to move to, even if they weren’t born here.
What terrifies me about the digital era is that everything has become way too simple! The effort has been taken out of things. While the fun part is that you can buy yourself a pair of sexy shoes even while in a meeting with your boss, the dark end of the spectrum is that you can tear a person to shreds with a single click. India was way more tolerant when protesting actually involved going to Azad Maidan by the 7am local with your banners. After all, “subeh subeh kaun uthega?”. Now an anti-social boy from Nalasopara can get his jollies and feel larger than life by poking fun at celebrities who he can never dream of meeting. While he may not have the courage to talk to anyone in a public setting, he does have the guts to abuse a celebrity’s entire family on the world’s largest public setting: Social Media. Long live the power of anonymity. Digitization has reduced the gap between people of all stratas of society, but I am not sure if this is necessarily a good thing. For all the good the internet has done for the world, the world has retaliated by finding every possible loophole to wreak havoc.
So a sincere request to all the ‘trolls’ – take a week off! Go offline, meet people you actually know, and more importantly: chill the F out. Let’s abide to using Social Media for the good, save the animals, educate people on causes you are passionate about, help the needy and spread positivity. Because someday, one unfortunate day, it all comes back to where it started. Next time you hit enter on that offensive comment think about how you’d feel seeing that times a million thrown at you. Karma is a bitch.