This is no regular blog.
This is an intervention. A serious one at that.
You really need to stop. Stop whatever you have been doing all this while and think for a second what have we become? And, what are we trying to become in the future?
A few years ago, we got addicted to social media platforms, for the reason they were created – to socialize. But, today social media has changed its appearance. Not that it had deceptive looks from the very beginning. It’s just that the appearance has changed over the years. And, took an ugly form. The cornerstone of this change was placed when we were introduced to ‘trolls’.
Trolls…those strange, unknown monsters who pull you closer to that darkness which you thought social media can help you stay away from!
While joining social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or even Snapchat (yes, I dared to mention it), little did we know that we are going to have a tough time dealing with a lot – from profanity and personal attacks, to those nasty streams of invective, we have to put up a brave front and bite these bullets like a warrior.
These trolls, embarked on a journey of loathe, expelling cyber attacks just for a couple of rofls and lols, have surrounded us all. Not only Indians, but people across the world have to bear trolling and cyber bullying. Studies reveal that one in every three youngsters are victims of online abuse.
Not just attacks made on the victim’s appearance, but trolls also bite your head off with racial epithets, boosting their ego to cause that communal disharmony that can rip off the very soul of any democratic society.
With their lack of all senses – grammatical, common, and moral – these trolls spare no one. You will easily find ‘political trolls’ swamping Twitter and Facebook, encumbering sensible political discussions, the moment they see someone speaking against their ‘chosen’ political leader.
In the west, you can find such trolls disguised as white bigot Donald Trump fanatics, who treat everyone who speaks against Trump as their sworn enemy. And, when you look back at home, these trolls can be replaced by Modi aficionados who live by the motto of “Hail Modi!”. You dare utter a word against their beloved leader or their party, and they will take no second to pull you down, spurting relentless rants, dancing on the grave of sanity.
And, by following these trolls back on Twitter, our PM strengthens their domination to knock down those who would like to disagree with their party’s ideologies or policies, for that matter. You oppose these trolls, and you are up for spiteful and contemptuous attitude, wreaking vengeance on anyone who dares to differ with them. After all, the PM has got their back!
How did we become a victim of manufactured hate?
One thing that you can easily notice about these political trolls is that they are everywhere. You name a part of the world, and they will be there to mock, ridicule, and troll you if you are in the way of their right-wing ideology. Those “Internet Hindus” sitting in the USA are a brilliant example of these trolls who will follow your every move, and punch you hard with labels of being anti-nationalists when you try to share what you feel on your ‘personal’ account.
For them, your personal views aren’t personal, if you give them a strong voice to be heard by others.
They are always ready to pick a bone with the liberals, like they are on a mission to stay alert round the clock, and pump all such people full of lead who oppose their respected leader. And, if you have a huge followership then you will surely be on their radar!
When I look back at the pre-Modi era, I can now easily grasp how the Bharatiya Janata Party manufactured hate to win the 2014 election. Back in the 1900s, Indians rejected hate, and they did that smartly till 2000.
But, today the scenario is absolutely different. About 30% of the country fell victim to hate-mongers in 2014 and the numbers are increasing with every passing day.
The question is for how long?
For how long would we ignore this manufactured hate, which has now taken the form of manufactured trolling and even manufactured news?
Yes! You read it right! There was a time when all that we got was genuine and validated ‘news’. But, not any longer.
Today, you can easily find many right-wing websites publishing fake news, playing with information discourse and altering facts to gain new supporters for the party.
From Postcard news, and Newspur, to the Lot Pot, and Logical Bharat, there are many such websites which are serving the sole purpose of fooling the readers by spreading fake news.
It has become a lethal act of turning well-read individuals into well-fooled ones. Triggered by money and political motives, these websites are blighting the faith that individuals have on them and other news sources. When these fake news stories are shared, rumors are transformed into news, involving masses, and ruining communal harmony in the country.
Why? Just for electoral gains?
Being swarmed by political trolls.
The very core of manufactured political trolling and manufactured news is simple. Troll those who either criticize Modi or those who support Rahul Gandhi. The agenda is clear – to make Modi shine, and to deride Rahul Gandhi. In fact, Rahul has been one of the worst hit politicians of social media trolling. It is a snap to figure that Rahul has been a victim of trolling merely because he can’t be a media pleaser and he couldn’t orate as well as PM Modi, but trolling him to a level that even repugnance gets offended is nothing less than an act of sheer folly.
Another much loved political target of trolls is Mr. Arvind Kejriwal. Even though I may not agree with his ideology, or his anarchist psychology, but trolling him with vicious abuse is not something that I will ever endorse. Showing him as a monkey, trolling him for everything he says, is nothing but a revelation of those cheap antics that hate-mongers never fail to resort to.
Why? Just because he cares to share his views with others?
Or, because his views are mainly against the ruling party?
But, mind you, these two are not alone in this war against the trolls, other most trolled Indian personalities include names like Manmohan Singh, Robert Vadra, Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan, amongst others.
From Bollywood celebs to journalists, nobody gets the mercy of these trolls if they differ with the RSS ideology, and the worst comes when these citizens of the very same nation are labelled as anti-nationals and Pakistan sympathizers in an instant.
What for? To achieve a society where views can be suppressed? To create a world where people can’t share their opinions if they are not in consensus with the political trolls?
Seriously, what have we become?
The man with the Midas touch, Shahrukh Khan, who used to be one of the most twitter-savvy Bollywood personalities, has been snubbed for the past three years for sharing his views on the changing society. By categorizing him as a terrorist sympathizer, trolls were successful in silencing another person who had opinions. Today, he has gone into a shell. The self-made man, the superstar of the nation who decided to talk about the changing society, has been forced to change himself.
While there are trolls who have made it difficult for film stars and film makers to engage with their fans, on the other hand, we have filmmakers who have become trolls such as the likes of Anupam Kher, Vivek Agnihotri, and Ashoke Pandit. These celebrities can easily share their views and mock others freely. And, guess what? They won’t be trolled, because they are a part of the troll brigade.
At the end of the day, the power to troll resides with you. You can be on the giving end, only if you favor the political party which is in charge, just because the present government doesn’t want people to criticize its policies.
I want to ask, then where does democracy stand today? Has its definition changed? If we can’t have two views and are dissuaded from sharing what we feel, if the second view is being suppressed all the time, then what is democracy?
Sadly, our freedom of speech is being curbed, and we are up the creek without paddle.
From empowering women to trolling them.
Talking about it from my own experience, women empowerment doesn’t transpire on social media.
From the day I exposed the BJP in Swati Chaturvedi’s book ‘I Am a Troll’, I have been a target of trolls umpteen times. I have encountered the most bizarre abuses, much of them being anonymous, sexually charged and brutally nationalist.
I am shocked with the venom that is spitted by these trolls, a large amount of which is misogynist. And, I am not alone. Like me, there are hundreds of women who have to face these trolls on a daily basis, mainly because women commenting on national issues or being vocal about their thoughts is something that our patriarchal society finds difficult to deal with.
This patriarchal mindset of our country is being used by the BJP as a bait – a party which is patriarchal in its own right.
I feel disgusted with the male supremacist mentality that we have to live with, even in this day and age. If not all, then many men still have a problem with every such woman who is independent, and doesn’t want to hold her opinions back. Twitter gives such men an easy access to these women, who otherwise won’t let such men wander even close to their periphery. By passing lecherous, racial and personal abuse to these women, they take pleasure in raping them verbally – fulfilling their long-drawn-out desire, with the help of a virtual medium.
Trolls are a threat to the youth.
Is it only the big-shots of the society and independent women who have become the society’s worst affected of trolling? No, there is another much badly hit segment– the youth.
It is saddening to see the youth of the county being brainwashed by a certain ideology, by a certain group of people who take pride in belittling others – be it through abusing or bullying.
We may not have given our youth fully-loaded guns, but then exposing them to trolling, racial abhorrence and lascivious tirades is no less than handing them a bomb which is surely going to explode and which is surely going to condition their young minds impracticable.
Today, children as young as fourteen, are using language that is beyond upsetting. Writing obscenities in almost every other tweet has become more like colloquial expressions. These raunchy patois often give a feeling to the users that they have the power and knowledge to abuse. And, the youth is the one that’s being harmed the most.
All those politicians who talk about youth empowerment and women empowerment, and who stiffen the resolve of trolls, are hampering the very same entities with online abuse and cyber terrorism.
And, this is as worse as putting your country’s soldiers bare naked, in front of the terrorists.
The psychological impact of trolling is so huge that what may look like hate banter or jokes-meant-for-fun take the form of public fear, anger, depression and at times, lead to fatal consequences as well.
Who are these trolls anyway? It is a group of people, who is a part of us all. So, why is it so hard for some of us to understand that there is a limit to take abuse and there are some victims who may totally succumb to cyber bullying, ending up their lives altogether.
Trolling for fun is good, but when it leads to rancorous abuse, rape threats, death threats, and even suicidal provocations, then there is little that the citizens of a nation can do to protect the country’s social fabric.
So, for those who troll, just a humble plea – don’t let your vindictiveness turn into a cause of our nation’s failure.
And, for those who get trolled, a request – don’t let the trolls intimidate you into silence. Don’t succumb to the fear of having to face a bunch of stolid minds. Stay fearless, stay you!
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NEWSD and NEWSD does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.