Incredible is the sphere of influence of Social Media. It is run by its own set of trolls, harassing brats and aggressive demons, fed by the tolerant, unimposing and timid lot who assimilate the abuses from this defiant class of annoying people. Social Media, in actual sense, not being run by any particular professional organization is open to everyone having varied standards of intellect, some with relatively higher streaming of mental capacities, some with mediocre comprehension and some touching the lower fringes of common understanding, all being the editors, proof readers and presenters in themselves.
In the past when Social Media had not made inroads into the personal domains of people, into their private affairs and privileged personal realms, the Newspapers, Radio and Television were the only interface where the erudite people would discuss matters without any personal judgments. Discussions would not be influenced by harassing trolls. News would be moderated in order to balance the equation between communities so as not to disturb the social fabric. The level of decency was maintained and opinions were respected. The madness in studios would not feature on the screens, nor would anchors impose their personal views or posturing of channels they represent.
A big factor responsible for this unprecedented paradigm shift is 'Social Media'. In the recent years Social Media has turned reckless and belligerent, influencing everything, skewing opinions though self proclaimed experts and in most of the cases turning into aggressive trolls. It has indirectly caught the neck of mainstream media including the newspapers and television, normally represented by famed and acknowledged Journalists. The professional Journalists, lately have found themselves squeezed between the intimidations, personal attacks and the code guided by their professional ethics. Some have already fallen in line, some are yet to yield, some have lost their credibility, some have been pushed down from their earned eminence and some have left the profession. Most of the expert Journalists, true to their profession, in order to remain relevant and not to invite trouble put across their viewpoints in a oblique manner so as to seem that they are not saying what they actually find pricking their conscience. The facial expressions on television screens usually are such that they fail to keep their heart, head and face on the same page, seemingly frightened with prospects of impending abuses.
The newspaper columnists too find all kinds of abuses stringed down to their write ups by the trolls waiting in the virtual world to hop upon. The moment a column surfaces on social media, trolls leap into discussions and cork down the saner voices with intimidation and insults. Most of the time previous posts or personal matters are raked up in such an indecent manner that the actual column remains un-discussed and invectives seize the space. The people with decent disposition prefer to pull out without much resistance and this in turn sprinkles confidence to the abusive trolls for what they do and assume their success in placing their nasty points across.
Social Media has become a platform for some to give vent to frustrations, to meddle into affairs of others, to pen down something what ordinarily publishers would not publish, to threaten others, an eye sore for some, a tool to bully others and for some an interface to get bullied through. There is very little space for normal exchange of ideas, very little space for liberals to make their point and very little space for healthy discussions. Sadly, its penetration is higher than any other media and it has strong potential to distort facts, to make skewed opinions and to twist the actual content in whatever manner the aggressive troll finds appropriate to their purpose.
The television news room discussions and 'TRP conscious' channels have taken the cue and have relegated their standards to levels of people who call shots in Social media. Scared of back lashing on Social Media and competitors taking advantages of it, most of the channels have changed their narrative. Their facade of feeding true and unbiased stories has been taken over by the prejudiced screen playing to the fingers of those who feed them. The genuine discussions have sloped to the one catering to a particular set of people and their masters. And again sadly, the opinion of common masses who don't understand the underlying nuances fall prey to the feeds driven with malicious intent.
The steady change in the vibrant colors of society into murky grey and black and the flip to the present order of intolerance could be mostly attributed to wrong manipulation of Social Media. The actors are designated and the tasks are determined, the role is defined to drive the opinion in a certain manner that suits the masters. The masters may deem it the service to their party and their cause but it is destined to recoil and bounce back with severe blow that might shred apart every fabric that is holding us together.
(S.S Qadri is a post graduate in Management Studies from the University of Kashmir email@example.com)