Katoho H Keith Sukhalu
Chekiye village, Dimapur
At this juncture the global community cannot fathom a world without the World Wide Web, literally nations will come to a standstill, economies will crumble, there will be utter chaos and confusion everywhere even the average person (who nowadays swears by his smart device) will be in histerics- the dark ages would have prevailed upon us. This is a scenario even thinking about it brings so many unpleasant repercussions. .
The internet has a plethora of benefits and one especially is how easy it has made life for the average common man-from paying his bills to managing his bank account all in the click of a button, I cannot elaborate the virtues of the internet in such a small platform i would have to write an entire book on the said subject, that too with at least a dozen volumes.
That being said, the internet’s most popular (sometimes infamous) progeny is social media. It is the oracle for disseminating any kind of information from a casual greet to matters having far reaching consequencies. Social networking portals have become so much a part of our lives that we share every tiny bit of personal information on these portals and make it available to millions of fellow netizens to consume, comment and share. We have become so dependent on these portals that we often tend to turn to social media to authenticate any bit of information we come by, which is a very dangerous trend. Information which is a very powerful tool can be absolutely catastrophic in the wrong hands. In many instances propaganda is now being spread as valuable information by misfits and anti social elements who are using social media and social networking as a most deadly weapon. Information which is now easily accessible to anyone is being frantically consumed without rational bases. The recent lynching of two Assamese youth by a mob in a small rural part of Karbi Anglong is most heartbreaking and is a glaring example of how information consumed without any rational standing can turn into something so unfortunate. Messages spread through social media and social networking platforms helped spread the fear psychosis among the masses resulting in them committing such a barbaric and inhuman act
There are many other instances of such occurrences across the country. I remember seeing a video in a whatapp group of a woman being beaten black and blue and then burnt alive on the streets by an angry mob, the video was being circulated claiming that the girl in the video was a Hindu girl who recently converted to Christianity somewhere in mainland India and was now being punished by members of the Hindu community, seeing this video made my skin crawl and then a raw anger surfaced, an anger meted out to the perpetrators, i was being blinded because of my faith (I being a Christian) and by the graphic contents of the video itself and now i looked at every other Hindu with angst and deep down wanted some kind of retribution. Later on upon further research i would discover that the alleged video was in a foreign country in a far off continent and had nothing to do with religion. Such are the dangers of believing everything at face value online. i am not siding with the mob in Karbi Anglong that was responsible for the brutal act, all I’m saying is anyone can be waylaid and coaxed into believing something especially when it has to do with the welfare and security of our near and dear ones and that too with graphic images and videos for proof.
We cannot ask an arbitrary authority to monitor each and every message that is being sent out on various social media and networking portals, not only will this task be impossible to perform but also this would be a total breach of privacy and should never be considered an option. Let us get one thing straight, the role of the state in this space is minimal. Simply disrupting internet services during sensitive times is only a precautionary measure and is in no way a solution, the state should play a role of a guardian rather than a dictator who according to his whims and fancies tries to control the internet which is a most draconian and short sighted approach. What the state can do is help organize programmes at the various levels to sensitize and educate the masses in towns and villages about fake news, sensationalism, misinformation etc. use social media itself to disseminate about the dangers of the internet. however the key role here is the individual, you and me, this venture is futile if not supported by netizens especially administrators managing various groups and blogs, please maintain some sort of a yardstick and not brazenly publish any message without proper authentication just so to gain membership. You are equally responsible and will be held accountable for any consequence the particular information has on the society whether good or bad. Our country’s internet laws are still quite sketchy and that is why it depends on us netizens to be more responsible. as an active member of the internet community I urge each and every member to please understand the responsiblities and repercussions involved. Every individual has a key role to play, if it is left upon the state alone to rectify this cancer of sorts i tell you we will witness a hundred more such incidences. Let us all join hands and play our part so that we may help build a more responsible and rational online community and make sure incidences like the one in Karbi Anglong never happens. Next time when you feel the urge to blindly press the send or post button think about the repercussions it could have, it could well be a matter of life and death for somebody!!