Dr. A. Nagraj

In the last four decades communication has undergone radical changes with the evolving technologies. People have used the technological tools especially the media tools to communicate and also to exchange information. The social networking sites have gone few steps ahead; the sites are not only for exchange of information and ideas, but also for reveling oneself to the outside world. The revelations can be at times disturbing, the freedom of giving the choice of liking or disliking by your friends and others on the social media, in the recent past has generated more controversies with regard to individuals, celebrities and other personalities. Today people are more conscious about what to tweet, and what to post on their social sites. While some post for being in limelight, for others it is an addiction towards the sites.The curiosity of wanting to know what is happening with others and within the group members, and staying online has made more people addicted to these sites in the last few years;the involvement has gone so far that people forget their own surroundings. “The addictive aspect of social networking is associated with Fear of Missing Out (FOMO). Everyone is on Facebook. They're posting things, sharing news and content and talking to each other 24/7” (Mike Elgan). People who are supposed to switch off their mobile phones in places like boardroom meetings, official functions, in theaters, hospitals, and other functions are least concerned with the inconvenience they create for others. The integration, interlinking and abridge applications of many of these social networking sites on the mobile phones, and the constant updates/reminders on one’s mobile phones with regard to the messages that are pending, makes oneself to indulge into these sites. The new features that are added and the constant upgrading of the sites is also one of the reasons for the people to get addicted to the sites. The addiction has gone so far that, warning signboards are in places with regard to taking selfies, the urge to do unique things and to get noticed by friends and pears on social networking sites with their unique selfies have resulted in numerous deaths and accidents.Mass awareness campaigning and public service advertisements (PSA) are now aired on television with regard to mobile phones and social sites.

From exchanging information and ideas, the social networking sites are now used for buying and selling. We have also seen the mobilization of mob groups who continuously criticize people on these sites; we have come across instances, where individuals are indulging in acts that are considered to be crime. Someone from Indore wants to sell his wife for one lakh, while a Chinese wanted to sell his baby daughter on social sites for 2,500 pounds.People who are willing to sell their wife’s, girlfriends, daughters, sons and sister are becoming more common these days, equally there are people who are willing to buy or bid in the auctions. The sites have become a platform for gratifying the individual needs, people are ready to sell their on kin and kith for iPhones, and various other gadgets, some do it in order to be out of debts, while some others do it for fun and revenge.

Today the social networking sites have become more unsocial than social. One may have come across many instances of social site abuse, especially related to content and visuals. Individual’s celebrities and other famous personalities are all victims of these groups. The sites are turning out to be, more of accusing each other rather having a healthy debate. The acquisitions and counter acquisitions by political parties, ideological groups and other groups have taken over the social networking sites.Instance of media personalities quitting the social media sites have become very common these days, not for being able to counter or answer the mob or the opposition members, but for constant trolling and abuse (language) that is considered to be very low. Television journalist and other social activists have quit the social networking sites, people like Amartya Sen, Rajdeep Sardesai, Sagarika Ghose, Ravish Kumar, woman journalist from Delhi, John Daya, Rahul Kanwal, Arvind Kejriwal, Julia Angwin, a Wall Street Journal reporter, Douglas Rushkoff, all of these personalities have been trolled or have faced social media abuse for their comments and active participation in socio-political and others issues.

People who genuinely contribute to a healthy discussion, and who are considered to be unbiased are also been trolled by the special mobs. People with hidden agenda to defame and malign the popular voices are becoming very active on the social sites; especially it has been found that the rightwing groups are actively involved in trolling people with secular voices. In majority of the cases where the trolling’s have been reported, it has been found that all of them have ideological linkages with the rightwing groups, especially the Hinduthava groups, people who have worked throughout their lives to counter the superstitious beliefs and are rationalist have been threatened to death by many such groups.Ultimately these threats on social media and other media sites have turned into reality.

About the author: The author, Dr. A. Nagraj is serving as Assistant Professor at the department of English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad after 12 years rendering services at Tezpur University, Tezpur, Assam.

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