Every day my Facebook feed is filled with videos of an innocent-looking gullible man who is surrounded by a chaotic crowd with smartphones, media mics, and cameras.
The man is introduced as a public representative and his thoughts and expressions are a source of entertainment for Instagram and Facebook viewers of Kashmir.
No one knows who the man is and it feels like no one wants to know who he is? Why are his views, reactions, thoughts contrary to normal human conduct? Why is his behavior not normal?
Harming a Mentally vulnerable person:
The 21st century world is witnessing a crisis, where the mental health challenge of a person is of great concern, and in Kashmir the awareness regarding mental health is increasing. But the reality is far different. Here local media, netizens, social media viewers, local Facebook pages, local YouTube channels and their followers are deriving pleasure and entertainment from the vulnerable intellectual and mental state of a gullible man.
Recently, in a widely circulated video, an aged father requested the general public and media not to circulate his son’s video and expressly stated about his son’s mental unsoundness.
He further expressed how the circulated videos are causing discomfort to his family and relatives and requested members of the public, including the media, not to make fun of his son’s mental illness.
Our moral condition is such that even after his father’s message, there are journalists conducting his son’s interview, aware of his son’s unsound mind but the urge of viewership and publicity is more important for those individuals; they show zero sensitivity towards a mentally ill person.
Adding more misery to the son’s mental illness is the Filtered Facade of Social Media, where his son’s videos and interviews are creating buzz among the masses.
Collective silence of Kashmiris over insensitive behavior of media and public towards a mental health patient speaks volumes of our insensitive approach towards mental health and dead moral and professional ethics.
This narrates the Mental Health of Kashmiris, where a mentally ill person is a social media star because his unsound mental state is a source of laughter and comedy.
No one ever thought, how on earth can a mentally and intellectually vulnerable person win a Panchayat Election. Indeed the political hygiene of his constituency is low, a mentally unsound person fills nomination papers and wins his maiden election seat because voters and the general public were not interested in the election process.
On the contrary, prescribed law mentions that, ‘a person with an unsound mind adjudicated by a competent court is disqualified to be an elected member or representative’. However, things with him are different, according to his father. The son has abandoned his family and as such his treatment remains a distant dream. Thus, he has no one to approach the Court of Law for an appropriate mental certificate and without it, the need for his mental illness treatment won’t be taken seriously.
But who cares for his mental welfare?
He is cheerleader to thousands of Kashmiris both online and offline. A mentally and intellectually vulnerable person, accidentally becomes a public representative and gets exploited by media organizations, businessmen, political party activists, social media pages, personal social media accounts, for their own interests.
Certainly, all these people are deriving pleasure from others’ pain i.e., Schadenfreude, a psychological condition in which a person experiences pleasure or joy from witnessing the troubles or failures of others.
Who is he ?
He is no social media star, no public figure. He is a normal person in need of mental health treatment but the filtered social media era has pulled him into the greedy race of maximum Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram views, with Yellow Journalists, Facebook pages, YouTubers along with the public are emerging as the winners. Sadly humanity, media ethics, and mental health treatment are losers.
And where is the conscious Kashmir?
Badrul-Duja is a practicing Advocate and RTI activist based in Srinagar.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.