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Tribune Special

Posted at: Dec 30, 2018, 1:53 AM; last updated: Dec 30, 2018, 1:53 AM (IST)

From ugly... to good

‘Forwards’ did more damage than build society

Ashima Sehajpal Batish

Social media: It was all about saccharine sweetness. Mushy posts, pouted pictures, flattering comments… we didn't like it much then, but did reconcile. Now, we hate it, almost. From the wolf that was fed on ‘light and hope,’ to the one bingeing on darkness and despair, social media malformed in a way it shouldn't have. 

What went ‘viral’ was gross social infirmity —WhatsApp messages spread fake news and was used to coordinate vigilante attacks. Twenty persons, accused of child lifting, paid the price with their life. As society struggled to sift the real from fake, the veil of decency was  lifted off some influential personalities. From the dark world of MeToo, skeleton after skeleton tumbled out of our patriarchal cupboards. So when Mark Zuckerberg apologised to the US Congress for his ‘product’ being whipped and whisked for political purposes, little did he know that Facebook would serve as a wall to MeToo post-its in India.

MJ Akbar, Sajid Khan, Anu Malik, Alok Nath, Utsav Chakraborty and several senior journalists were shamed for their lewd behaviour on the social media.

KiKi Challenge went viral and was copied and pasted without bothering about the consequences.

Social media also gave people a ‘purpose in life’, something they could have managed without. While some channelised their creativity, others took it too far through trolls and memes. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj was attacked on Twitter for doing her job: Helping a couple who was unfairly denied passport for their different faiths. In another case, Congress spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi lodged a police complaint against a Twitter user who threatened to rape her 10-year-old daughter. However, only when the monster forgot to differentiate between the ‘master’ and the ‘neighbour’ was the gravity of the issue realised. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey suffered a backlash for posing with a  controversial poster on his trip to India.  Did anyone show kindness? No, not our nature, anymore.

Social media gave birth to some overnight stars as well. The talent would have gone unnoticed if it weren’t for the multitude of shares. Priya Prakash Warrier’s wink and Dancing Uncle Sanjeev Shrivastva’s antics broke the internet and the dreariness of life. 

But, if there was an award for a video with a genuine goal, it would go to Sunil Chhetri, captain of the Indian football team. His video of plea — “watch, abuse, criticise us, but get involved” — went viral in no time.  Rest, memes on Rahul Gandhi hugging PM Modi, the wink that followed; and attributing the invention of Coca Cola to a shikanji maker; video of Virat Kohli asking a critic to leave India; the ‘Chai Peelo’ Aunty and her monotone invites, pictures of celebrity weddings and who wore what, Beyonce’s performance at Isha Ambani’s sangeet and jokes that followed kept netizens buzzing and busy. Besides, Taimur Ali Khan, too, grew up by one full year! 

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