Offended? Think again! The unnecessary noise of trial by social media

Next time we’re ready to scream ourselves hoarse, let’s check the facts and pick battles we are going to stick with in the long run. Otherwise, it’s all just noise.

Written by Anuradha Varma | New Delhi | Published:April 1, 2017 12:18 pm
social media, social media trial, tvf controversy, tvf molestation row, kangana ranaut, hrithik roshan, social media trolling, social media news, viral news, latest news While it’s a positive sign that we may be evolving into a society that thinks before it speaks, what’s lacking is accountability. (Source: Thinkstock images)

A few weeks ago, I was watching the movie Places & Things on TV, where the woman tells the man who has come to pick up his kids, already asleep in the lady’s house, to let them stay the night since they’re not puppies he can just drag around. An innocuous comment, but when Mira Rajput, actor Shahid Kapoor’s wife, used the same puppy analogy to explain her stay-at-home mom status, several irate working mothers and “pet parents” wrote her stinkers as open letters. Without getting into the merits of the issue, we can all agree that the offence industry is working overtime.

At times, the offence takes a while coming, like in the case of Karan Johar (yes, that again!), who sportingly laughed off Kangana Ranaut terming him the movie mafia, but a few days later decided to register his offence at the statement. Well, Kangana took offence right back and they’ve been at it ever since. Now it turns out he had said the exact same thing as Kangana a couple of years ago, but now believes the exact opposite. When you can’t beat them, simply confuse and confound them. Ram Gopal Verma is certainly one confused soul, after tweeting on Women’s Day that women should make men happy like Sunny Leone, a former adult star. Definitely derogatory in my book, but twitterati were quick to notice that Sunny Leone initially sportingly sent a smiley in reply, but once the outrage began, seemed to reconsider her position and uploaded a politically correct video message.

While it’s a positive sign that we may be evolving into a society that thinks before it speaks, what’s lacking is accountability. It’s a trial by media where everyone has to have their say and before we know it, the protagonists have been roasted in full public view, not once, but repeatedly. Who needs to file an actual case in the courts, when there’s a very public jury out to play lynch mob? An anonymous twitter user, who accused comic Rohan Joshi of sexual harassment and then took it off with an apology, showed just how easy it all is. In the case of Hrithik Roshan versus Kangana Ranaut, the latter has revealed that there was never any case filed, just the looming threat of one.

Recently, there was collective outrage in the media and on social networking site as celebrities and others condemned the fatwa against Indian Idol teen singer Nahid Afrin by apparently 46 clerics, except there never was one. In a hurry to not be left behind, nobody cared to check the facts. Interestingly, even on the Mira Rajput issue, there were hardly any open letters by stay-at-home mothers. When the noise dies down, what are we really left with? There are no wise takeaways, no real understanding of an issue, just the wait for the next storm.

Unfortunately, as we wear ourselves down and become victims of low attention spans, the real issues escape us. We need to sustain our anger on things that may matter. There are no candle-lit marches against the oppressive anti-Romeo drive, no real outrage on the closing down of slaughterhouses as livelihoods are lost…as a nation, we remain divided on things that matter.

Next time we’re ready to scream ourselves hoarse, let’s check the facts and pick battles we are going to stick with in the long run. Otherwise, it’s all just noise.

(The writer is an editorial consultant and co-founder of The Goodwill Project. She tweets @anuvee) Views expressed are personal.

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