How social media trolling is promoting hate speech?

By Ammara Ghani

  • Wrong use of social media

As for Pakistanis, it seems, trolling has become our national hobby. We — the Pakistanis — love to judge our celebrities and public figures. This is the very reason that the internet is becoming really a scary place breeding an environment of intolerance and hatred

 

What probably started to troll political figures and celebrities for fun has transformed into something capable of ruining their entire lives. Social media users today think that is their right not only to express their opinion, but also to use abusive language and to tag someone with the label they think is right

 

Where technology has minimised distances and made our lives easier, the other side of the picture is quite bitter. Every now and then, there emerges a scandal and an incessant round of online trolling associated with it. Social media — initially devised with the design of bringing people close enough that they forget about the real world boundaries separating them — has been now serving the opposite. The idea was to create a virtual world where we can be with people who really matter to us, where we can keep ourselves abreast of the latest happenings and a world where we can express our opinions freely. However, things went awry when this new trend of trolling other users started promoting hate speech.

‘Troll’ is a term that originally came from a fishing method used by thieves to find victims online. Soon after, they started using it for the monsters who were used to threaten people. Internet trolls are different in a sense that they started doing the same act for laughs or for seeking attention. And they are oblivious of the fact that their pathetic act is not only promoting hate speech among others, but they are also playing havoc with other’s lives.

As for Pakistanis, it seems, trolling has become our national hobby. We — the Pakistanis — love to judge our celebrities and public figures. This is the very reason that the internet is becoming really a scary place breeding an environment of intolerance and hatred. Recent victims of these trolls were one of Pakistan’s most versatile actress, Mahira Khan, and the Nobel prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. Leaked images of Miss Khan along with Bollywood stud Ranbir Kapoor, that too in revealing clothes and cigarette in hand, was proof enough to shame the actress on social media.

First of all, the images themselves suggest that an illegal act had been committed i.e. not of having a ciggie break with a friend but of intruding some one’s private life. Despite the fact that our stars share with us a part of their lives, it just doesn’t give us the right to judge them for their personal choices and the friends they choose to hang out with. Later on, the amount of trolling and offensive commenting on these pictures made people like me instantly think; Gosh they have got another personality to rip apart. We as a nation really need to stop preaching our hypercritical and self-righteous ideology as it can be really harmful for generations to come.

Right after Mahira’s episode, our self-righteous moral police emerged even harsher. This time the target was Pakistan’s young Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai. It is true that a faction of our society doesn’t really acknowledge her cause and keeps on belittling her efforts. However, it has nothing to do with her new dress code. No sane person can find a single reason to have a problem with her clothes. You don’t have to agree with her ideology, but judging someone on the choice of clothes she wears is absolutely baseless. Five years ago when a girl was shot in the head, they remained silent. In 2017, she is attending Oxford in skinny jeans and there is so much hate all around. This is how we prove that we don’t need an external enemy to harm us when we ourselves can do it better.

We live in a society predominantly defined by two extreme factions and there is no way in between. Yousafzai and Khan received backlash from one extreme and the other extreme is geared up to torment the ones who are preaching the word of Allah (SWT). Just because of their intolerance towards religious personalities, we witnessed some really embarrassing episodes in the past. Take for instance the example of an American born Pakistani religious scholar Nouman Ali Khan, who is in social media highlights this time not because of his religious sermons but due to the recent assault on his personal life. Though not entirely a case of internet trolling, the way Desi liberals attacked his personal life using social media is an absolute example of how both factions of the society are exploiting this otherwise so fruitful medium to spread hate.

What probably started to troll political figures and celebrities for fun has transformed into something capable of ruining their entire lives. Social media users today think that is their right not only to express their opinion, but also to use abusive language and to tag someone with the label they think is right for the person they are commenting on. Undeniably, criticism is important, but only if it is done in a constructive way. Spreading hate through your comments is not constructive criticism, so it would be really a great social service if one thinks before writing in the comment box. Just remember that you cannot have the same opinion as the person sitting next to you, the need of the hour is to stop being rigid in your opinions. Learn to ignore and spread tolerance.

 

 

Ammara Ghani is freelance journalist, writes on social and political issues. She can be reached at [email protected].



One Comment;

  1. Ahmed Khan Afridi said:

    Thank you so much for a very good article, and I totally agree that there are etiquettes for criticizing someone Islamically – as taught by our beloved RasulAllah SAWS- and as a human being, which we as a nation are totally missing just like you pointed out. Regardless of this, we shouldn’t let us overlook facts that you failed to mention in the article:

    1- Nouman Ali Khan is not attacked because of his personal life issues, rather, he is being made example of due to his “Spiritual Abuse” tactics. There is a staunch difference and I think as a responsible journalist you should make it clear.

    2- As for Malala, she is attacked due to her clear and pure disrespect of truth, Islam, and country. She and her father are self-promoting opportunists who are painting the picture that in the whole country they are the only moral and educated people and everyone else is a backward mullah.

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