Dr Asangba Tzudir
The power of social media has become more profound in recent times in both ways positive as well as negative. And except for those who live with no internet connectivity, we have seen and witnessed the insensitivity, cruelty and ugliness of human nature while expressing one’s feelings and emotions from behind a keyboard.
Of late, in context, a lot of contesting hate speeches and justifications in various forms has been propagated through social media platforms. The damages caused are obvious except the intent of inflicting and spreading pain and counter pain starting from the inflicted pain from the comforts of a keyboard.
What is so powerful about a digital platform that gives rise to such courage, though in reality hidden from the real and therefore a fake courage? At the end, the apologies from those ‘booked’ does in no way ease the pain, violence and damage caused especially if someone turns out to be innocent.
It has become a trend to let social media platforms bear the burden of every angry thought, every perceived injustice, put in the social media domain. Just that social media does not respond to emotions as humans do. As such, before posting, let us be reminded of the question of what will be finally accomplished. In an attempt also to seek attention, more often it only brings out the character of the person than the effect it may have on the person being attacked.
As keyboard warriors enact their form of justice seeking validation, attention, or revenge in the face of contesting versions, or trying to be the conqueror, it only reinforces the existing boundaries both mental and physical and breaks the threshold beyond what is ‘say-able’ and what is ‘not say-able’, and in the end, it seldom brings the desired result, but violence.
Today, online trolling is a growing phenomenon and a problem. Trolls can be found in virtually any public forum online, and their objective is to cause disruption in their pursuit of attention. Looking into the psychological aspect of such growing trend of trolling, and as people continue to experience harassment online, those trolling tend to show low levels of understanding, guilt, regret, and fail to own responsibility for their wrong actions.
While it is difficult to become a real life champion, it is easier to become a social media champion for both right and wrong reasons and the latter is more often pursued which is motivated by aberrant social rewards.
This social reward is also achieved in the tussle between the victor and the vanquished irrespective of the truth or falsity of the matter. The nature of it is such that it adds to the social reward from every response from both contesting sides. Having said that, let it be reminded that truth does not need justification and that the beholder of truth may desist from responding thereby refuse to give them the satisfaction of a response. However, to really ‘turn the other cheek’, one may keep necessary evidence in case of escalation leading to legal platforms.
Veiled within a fake courage in the virtual world, it is imperative for social media users to be mindful of the truth so also the encapsulated violence which is provoked. Most importantly, it calls for sensitivity towards the “oppressed other” which is produced or reproduced in every narrative.
(Dr Asangba Tzudir writes a weekly guest editorial for The Morung Express. Comments can be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org)