Social Media:A Mirror…or Lynching Pad?

Editor’s Note;Social Media has come up as a strong medium of communication. Yes,it has it’s good & bad points. Explored by Ali Shah,a banker based in Karachi.

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By:Ali Rehman

The growth in popularity of social media is indeed very welcome.  We have all witnessed various examples of nations chiseling their fate, individual voices becoming screams of the masses, a small town story becoming a national issue, all because of the social media (twitter/facebook).  Many a success can be attributed today to these channels of communication, starting from drives for funds, to blood donation, to updating of real time news, to more serious stands, where pressure have been built on issues like the internet censorship or the Domestic Violence Bill.  All in all, it provides a platform for anyone to voice their opinions, comment or give analysis on anything and everything.

While the positives of social media have been briefly touched upon, it, by far, is utilized more for commenting on the current affairs, happenings in and around us.  Hardly any event is missed out, initially – the announcement, during – the running commentary, and after – the analysis of who, what, where, when, why and how was good, bad, could have been better, and the likes.  In a similar fashion, politics, the ever constant political events, Human Rights activities/stands, anchors, journalists, and other public figures are always under discussion and many politicians, human rights activists take it head on from all sorts of people.

While it is appreciated and understood that it is next to impossible for them to reply to each and every comment, it is not the frequency which is under discussion here, rather, the quality of the reply.  On one hand, we have individuals like Mr. and Mrs. Hussain Haqqani, Faisal Subzwari, Maryam Nawaz Sharif, Rehman Malik, Jahangir Tareen, Fawad Chaudhry and other public figures like Naseem Zehra, Shahzeb Khanzada, etc., who would take time out as and when they can and respond or comment in the politest of manners, objective being to get their respective points across, which may be in agreement or disagreement of the original observation.  On the other, we have individuals many politicians, public figures who simply lack the tolerance, needed while belonging to the level they rightly or wrongly belong to.  It is this observation which brings us to the gist of this paper.

Who are these public figures, the anchors, the politicians? Are they from another planet? Is it not us who criticize every single word uttered by them? We complain about various statements by these individuals which may reflect on ethnic inclinations.  An old adage, “a chain is as strong as the weakest link” can be quoted aptly here.  We are all links.  We have an issue with “liberals”, “Mullahs”, “Leftists” and “Rightists” and what not.  We, as common people, need to stop and reflect.  Are we not as guilty, even more, for committing the “crimes” we have issues with, if committed by others.

More often than not we are blaming our politicians, public figures, “liberal fascists”, etc. on communicating and advocating divides, supremacies, inferiorities, based on ethnic backgrounds, east versus west, religious versus modern and what not, while the common man falls prey.  Each one of us should stop and ask if this is true.  This is mentioned after observing communication from many across the country, including a larger number of commoners.  We, as a nation have stopped believing in a balanced approach to anything and everything.  Speaking in terms of politics, those against MQM believe everything and everyone belonging to or associated with it is evil.  While those, who are a part of it believe in all members being heaven-sent.  Same is true for PPP and the various PML’s and other parties.  Those loving Imran Khan are crazy about him and those who don’t, can’t stand to hear him speak no matter what sort of sense he may be making.  Speaking in terms of ethnicities, during routine communication, hatred is felt based on one being Sindhi, Punjabi, Urdu Speaking, Balochi or Pakhtoon.  We have stopped respecting individuals, humanity, in general.  Shezreh Mirza is often targeted because she is Zulfiqar Mirza’s daughter.  Dr. Awab Alvi is referred to by Sharmila Farooqui as son of Dr. Arif Alvi, Chief Secretary General, PTI while only an individual act which probably has nothing to do with his father, is under discussion.  Ejaz ul Haq continues to take hate because of Zia ul Haq.  Bilawal Bhutto is often a recipient of derogatory statements in the capacity of being the son of President Asif Ali Zardari.  All the communication referred to here is by commoners.  And it is mentioned here that many statements/words fall far beyond the level of decency.  Abuses of various sorts by commoners as well as certain publically known figures can often be witnessed on twitter.  Why is it difficult to understand and believe that “perfection” is not a human trait.

Point to ponder: If we ourselves cannot stand each other and are extreme in our communication, how can we complain about Dr. Mirza’s speeches against Urdu speaking or what President Zardari says about Judiciary or PML N, or the communication by CM Shahbaz Sharif of PML N on PPP or Waseem Akhter and the famous episode outside the Parliament for PML N.  We all wish to be treated with kindness yet we wish not to treat anyone else with the same kindness.  We, more often than not, give our true selves away and do not even realize it.  Is it not then that we are often governed by our likes only?

Dear readers, this paper is based on observing normal routine communication between people.  We need to assume responsibility and practice tolerance.  We have adopted a habit of knowing it all and knowing best.  We believe in on the spot trial and punishment.  As the time is passing, distances between people based on religion, political affiliation, sect, etc., are increasing and it is indeed concerning.  We have all become masters of stereotyping and generalizing.

There are many issues around us.  Of both major and minor significance.  However, it is felt that every single issue is major when fought individually. We have come together and become one, historically, in times of natural calamities when the masses crossed over all ethnic and religious boundaries.  The wonders we did and the achievements are innumerable.  The strongest message herein is to not point fingers towards others.  The situation we face today is more or less a consummation of our individual failures, as small as they may be.  I am sure that I may not be cared for because I may not have cared, I may be disrespected because I may have been disrespectful. We need to learn to co-exist and enjoy the differences.  The different inclinations, lifestyles should add to our experience rather than becoming reasons for distancing.  The biggest of the enemies is within us! We defeat that enemy and we conquer the world.  It is quite acceptable to raise objection or to disagree, but let us try and continue to be respectful as we do so.  Lastly, if we are given an opportunity to be heard or to interact, it is our right as well as our responsibility to utilize that space positively, give feedback, complain, discuss, but let’s not abuse and be disrespectful to each other.

Parh Parh Alam Fazal Hoya
Kadi apnay Aap Noo Parya Hee Nai
Jaa Jaa Warda Mandar, Maseedan
Kadi man Apnay Wich Waria Hee Nai
Aiwain Roz Shetan Naal Larda
Kadi nafs Apnay Naal Lariya Hee Nai

      • Bhullay Shah
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  • Imtiaz  On April 12, 2012 at 1:57 am

    Thanks. Fully agreed with. How do we make the quantum cultural change in our society.

    Culture of teamwork, punctuality, common courtesy,precision , attention to detail, value addition, dignity of (hard)work, halal income are generally missing from our society.

    Who are the culture builders : Politicians, bureaucrats,the pulpit, the poets, writers, teachers, media, journalists, stage. Ask anyone of them if they can explain the meaning of a problem solving tool call “fish-bone diagram”. Do they ever talk about precision and punctuality or practice these ? Yet we aspire to be an Asian Tiger.

    How are we going to inject these cultural values into our society ? Please try to create a dialogue or “to-do” on this.

    With Best Regards,
    Imtiaz Rastgar

    • Ali Rahman (@Baahirezaman)  On April 12, 2012 at 4:47 am

      Dear Mr. Rastgar, thank you very much for the feedback… It is always encouraging. You have presented a good idea of creating a dialogue, which definitely will be worked upon.

      As for your question regarding ways and means of injecting values, the answer is simple, “I” have to treat “YOU” exactly the way “I” would like to be treated. The problem is what we like for ourselves and how we interact with others have become two different worlds.

      Thanks again for your feedback.

      Ali Rahman

  • Assad Siddiqui  On April 12, 2012 at 2:52 am

    how we take a comment: a suggestion or a criticism, that makes the whole difference.If we believe in taking every comment,leaving our ego aside,as suggestion it improves relations,it assists in building self confidence and also to improve our behaviour of interact with others.This approach has a positive ripple effect of tolerance in the society which we lack a lot.This observation is based on my personal experience which took me lot of time to understand and practice.Its not “holier than though attitude” but just a suggestion.


    • Ali Rahman (@Baahirezaman)  On April 12, 2012 at 4:51 am

      Mr. Siddiqui, thank you for your feedback. Indeed the way we react to any comment, observation, suggestion, can result in a positive ripple and can be a foundation of character building as you mentioned. However, we have to retract a step and think on how we make that commen, suggestion or observation. The way an idea is presented surely dictates how the recipient may react to it.

      Thanks again and best wishes.

      Ali Rahman

  • Laila  On April 12, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Many social social media debaucles start as small things. An unanswered question, an unanswered request, a mistake, a misunderstanding– all these things are fairly small. The problem happens when a customer or fan gets upset about it and posts to you on your public profile.

  • K  On April 12, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Social Media has become a lynching pad because internet provides most people the opportunity to vent out, to be critical, to be emotionally charged, all from the comforts of their own homes/offices.

    • Ali Rahman (@Baahirezaman)  On April 15, 2012 at 4:56 pm

      Indeed! However, its been said many times, greater freedom calls for greater responsibility. Do apprecaite you taking time out and reading it. Thank you.

  • baahirezaman  On May 25, 2012 at 8:34 am

    Reblogged this on Baahir-e-Zaman and commented:
    An article I wrote earlier, something which needs a constant reminder.

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