There was this small PTI news, which I thought was very instructive. Said news report (datelined New Delhi, August 4) didn’t seem to attract much traction perhaps because it couldn’t be sensationalized. The report, titled: ‘It does not matter’, says SC on objectionable video against it, says: ““It does not matter”, the Supreme Court on Friday observed after an Advocate mentioned before it that an objectionable video in which the apex Court has been compared with a brothel is being circulated on social media platforms. An Advocate mentioned the matter before a Bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra. “There is one very important matter. I have already drawn the attention of the Registrar also towards a video being circulated in which the apex Court has been compared with a brothel, Judges sitting with you have been called corrupt”, the lawyer said. “Don’t worry. It does not matter”, the CJI said. The lawyer also said that objectionable words have been said about the apex Court in the video after the hearing in the Manipur violence matter. “No problem at all. Don’t worry about it”, Justice Chandrachud said.”
Despite very limited knowledge on the law and matters legal, in my opinion, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) and/or any Judge of the Supreme Court could have taken umbrage and reported the matter to the Cyber Crime Branch but the CJI’s response “It doesn’t matter” was very remarkable. Today there is enormous cyber rage (or, is it social media rage?) something like road rage and people are going at each other’s throats at the slightest of real or imagined hurt sentiments, defamation, what-have-you. In the face of such rage, when a purported a video is said to be circulated in which the apex Court has been compared with a brothel and Judges have been called corrupt, for the CJI to calmly say, “It doesn’t matter” is not just the epitome of coolness but also the very manifestation of magnanimity. The CJI is right to say, “It doesn’t matter” because only the foolish will compare the Supreme Court to a brothel and accuse Judges of being corrupt without evidence so the CJI’s disregard is more a reflection of whoever made the video than of the Supreme Court or its Judges. Juxtapose this with the reactions and responses of some people in power, who use and abuse their chair, office and the laws of the land to clamp down on any criticism ~ even the mildest. An interesting insight of such people in power, won’t you say?
The point is that in today’s environment of cyber/social media rage, logic and reason are eclipsed giving way to emotional outbursts, indicating underlying fears and insecurities, and gives much satisfaction to the provoker. And there are always people who take much delight in provoking people ~ perhaps it is in their nature or because of political reasons. Soon after the report of said video, there was another post viral on social media of statements attributed to the CJI. Once again the CJI held his horses and the Supreme Court issued a statement that the CJI said no such thing. Anyone with an iota of sense will know that as the custodian of the Constitution of India, no CJI or Judge would utter such un-utterables. I cannot assert that there is a connection between the video and the social media post ergo it is best to let the incidents rest. However, there is always the possibility that there are elements trying desperately to bait the CJI and other Judges into controversies and somehow discredit them. By the very fact that the CJI and other Judges haven’t reacted proves how miserably the provokers have failed.
That aside, what does these episodes tell us about human behavior? It is never necessary for anyone to lower one’s own self-respect and dignity by reacting to every provocation in any form. By saying “it doesn’t matter”, the CJI has underscored the importance of selecting battles worth fighting and worthy opponents. By saying “it doesn’t matter”, the CJI has also underscored his generosity of spirit ~ one must always pick one’s own size. In life, people we know and don’t know ~ as also, people who know and don’t know us ~ will always have things to say about us and everybody. They are not worth wasting time on. Unfortunately, in today’s era and environment of social media, people are made to believe that any and every bark merits a reaction and a response. I am not sure but perhaps the tech giants are creating this culture of antagonism to increase their revenue? Then there are people, who feel big only when they reduce others to the tiniest size by always harping on their shortcomings. This also seems to be the level of political engagement in the last decade. But this has also always been an intrinsic part of human nature ~ it all depends on an individual’s level of maturity, sensitivity, upbringing, moral compass, etc ~ all of which determine an individual’s priorities and choice of battles, rivals and foes.
The volume of traffic on social media is so huge that it is difficult to know what is being said and why. What makes sense to one may not to another so it is best not to react and respond to what defies sense but it is crucial to discern the nonsense, the lies and the propaganda. At least, that is what education should dictate us to do however it appears that social media interaction has totally written off our education, decorum and the words of wisdom passed down from our fore-parents. Yes, there will always be differences and disagreement in human society but the overt and covert and the insidious rage we see today on social media is something else ~ it is erasing the human in us. Are we happy about it? Do we really believe that human beings are meant to be raging about something or the other all the time? That human being’s ultimate purpose is to lie, build smokescreens, spread canard about people, political parties, communities, or whatever and malign the reputation of those we don’t like? Do we also think that it is our ultimate purpose to misuse and abuse technology, which is meant to make our lives more convenient and comfortable?
Something is clearly very wrong with us for us to abandon our age-old civilizational wisdom and our humanness. And the worst part is that we are not even using our common sense to pick our battles but have turned this technology into a battlefield to vent our angst and ire for numerous real and imagined reasons we hold responsible for things going awry with our lives and our unattainable ambitions and limitless wants but the technology is not at fault. It is us who are unable to handle life. Tomorrow something new will emerge and how foolish we will feel ~ if we can still feel foolish. Judging by our social media behavior today, perhaps we see our foolishness as our wisdom?
(The Columnist, a journalist and poet, is Founding Editor, Nagaland Page. Published in the August 23, 2023 issue of Assam Tribune)