Almost half the world – if not more – is on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the like. Communication has overcome geographical boundaries and played an instrumental role in bringing people closer than ever before, despite vast distances and a myriad different conditions separating them. In such a world, it would be safe to make an assumption that we are living in a golden age of communication, that we are talking to each other despite innumerable differences, and having nuanced discussions, right?
Wrong. You’d be wrong to think so.
Today, social media is akin to screaming in a void.
Instead of deliberations and discussions on a topic, we either find people screaming at each other, or people putting forth their opinions on forums full of like-minded persons, seeking only validation for their theories and beliefs. This can only lead to stagnancy, because only by a healthy discussion and a give-and-take of views between people holding contradictory opinions can there be real progress made, with steps taken to ensure everyone’s voice is not only heard, but also given equal weightage and consideration.
Check out any post on Facebook from a major news outlet, be it national or international. You find discussions in comments going on weird, unrelated tangents. Take for example any BBC or New York Times post which talks about India or Pakistan. You will find countrymen of both nations hurling vitriol and abuse at each other, at the countries, at the person or agency posted it – and who knows at what else – in the comments section. Some of these are particularly crude and makes one wonder whether there should be a basic test for common sense before people are allowed to use social media, or perhaps even the internet, because if these people are only going to come online to remove frustrations of the real world by abusing and threatening others from beyond the safety of a computer screen, then the net would only be a better place without them.
Instead of being places where you can come together, discuss differing viewpoints, and talk to each other, you only see people abusing each other. People who only want to be heard, but do not want to listen to anyone else. People who only want to put their views forward, and be validated as being right. This is not only unhealthy, but as a sign of the times, then it is also disappointing.
If there is only hate on both sides, if there is no centre, then how will there be nuanced talk which leads to progress?
What can be done to remedy this?
Well, barring an injection of common sense and tolerance for differing opinions and viewpoints, there isn’t much to be done. It is all about understanding that everyone is a different person, and whatever their views, they deserve to be heard, there needs to be discussions and dialogue, which can lead to a commonly beneficial ideology which comes out.