Vijay Phanshikar :
THE cacophony of diverse opinions that is erupting on social media these days on every possible subject under the Sun, is, by any standard shocking and surprising. So many people keep expressing themselves on every subject no matter if they know nothing about it. And on many occasions, many users of social media are found to have gone berserk in expression, getting starkly and nakedly abusive, disrespectful of the person in discussion or his or her opinion. Some of the abuses are so filthy, to say the least, that one may never want to refer to social media again.
“This is democracy in action”, said somebody who is very active on social media, almost spending 3-4 hours every night responding to various posts on every subject that is seen on those platforms. “In democracy, we express ourselves on all subjects. Each one has a vote to oneself. And so, one must express”, was his argument. But to the issue of decency, this fellow had no sane response. He almost justified the abusive language by stating, in effect, that when one is very angry or involved in an issue, there is a likelihood of going “a little astray”. “A little astray”! So much astray, that the abuses keep sinking into a pit of filth! But let us not talk about that part.
There are other aspects, too, to deal with. It is absolutely correct that democracy means free expression, free speech, and also free will to take positions. Yet, many questions abound as regards the extent to which one can indulge in making expressions that make little sense in the long run. And most questions have remained unanswered. True, some advocates of free and limitless use of social media as a democratic platform will have answers to all issues, even though they would not convince some genuine seekers of proper response. But in most other cases, as one sees those posts on social media platforms, one realises the dangerous signs of certain social decay.
A very high number of posts do not indicate any awareness of social responsibility. By any standard, that is shocking. But then, we also have great users of social media to propagate right ideas and ideals, right thoughts and promote right actions. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi, for example, is an avid user of social media to connect with millions of people and has become a permanent member of the top-ten league of social media users in the world. There are many celebrities in that segment, making a very sensible use of social media and evoking responses that range from great to very great.
The social media, thus, is clearly divided into two segments -- genuinely good and sensible users, and terrible and abusive users of the facility. It is up to us to decide which model is good. But going by norms of goodness, nobody will ever support abuse of social media as a tool of democracy, no matter the idea of social catharsis some may suggest as a utility. Frankly speaking, such catharsis is not what our society may finally want. Let us think about this. Let us arrive at a sensible response to the issue.