The internet has brought people closer, they say. I’ll drink to that. But the internet is also responsible for pushing people further and further away from each other too. Bitter pill indeed.
Long time ago before Netscape and Napster, we had opinions. Opinions on various issues ranging from politics to society. Opinions that we shared with our close friends. Hence, people around us (more or less) used to agree with our opinions. Our world was small then. Very small. And then the dot.com boom happened and suddenly everybody thought it was pretty damn cool to design a homepage at geocities or freeservers with marquee text effect.
Soon, social media kicked in and mankind for the first time interacted with a different kind of community – the onliners. Various issues were discussed at various chat servers. Suddenly people realized – hey, not everybody share my views or opinion on this or that. OMG!!!
The goody ones came across the trolls. They learnt that the world was not all sugar and spice and all things nice. The trolls came across the troll-hunters. They learnt that there were others more “intelligent” than them. The nerds pwned everybody with Slashdot while the noobs continued to be the butt of all jokes.
In the midst of all this, we started having discussion forums. Here in India, things kicked off pretty well. Discussion forums were created (oh those ugly threaded design days). Blogs gained momentum and it became a rave. Followed by the blog conglomerate sites. Desipundit, mutiny, blogbharti, etc etc became the hub of all opinionated netizens. Soon news portals started implementing a “comment system” on their articles. Web 2.0. Orkut still dominates Facebook in India purely due to its first mover advantage. And then there’s twitter and the hazaar other new applications.
And so we are now faced with one very uncomfortable question: The world may have become a global village, but what is the point when all the huts within that village are on the warpath with each other?
You see, as much as the internet brings people closer, it also pulls them apart too.
Talk about groupism and India has it all. From caste to race to ethnicity to religion to region to politics to language, any article on this topic is bound to raise one helluva storm.
People often say racism begets racism. The problem is, we cannot see this with a myopic view. We always come to a point where our act of racism is “actually not racism” whereas other people’s act upon us is indeed racism. Playing the role of the victim has always been more convenient than the victimizer. And we vehemently defend our action, which is nothing more than our intellectuality slowly sinking in quicksand, or should I say, cesspool.
Racism is ugly. Yes. But one thing we should never forget is that racism indeed begets racism. After all these years of exposure to various discussion topics and taking part in many of them, one thing is for sure – any racial abuse is resolved with another racial abuse.
I mean, seriously, isn’t that pathetic?
Take for example, the recent Rina Dutta episode. If you are not from the North East, you probably wouldn’t have heard of her. But every net savvy person from North East India knows about this. Her article first appeared at Assam Times. It was taken down within a couple of hours, but not without getting more than 500 responses from people all over the North East. That continued at other mirror sites, facebook pages etc etc.
Likewise, there are hundreds of other such abuses out there. The target can be anybody from the Northest north to the Southest south of India. If a person says something we absolutely abhor, instead of criticizing him or his reasoning, we usually end up saying something nasty about the other person’s community. Pray, do tell me then, when will this vicious cycle end?
Along with a couple of friends, we run a very popular Mizo discussion forum: misual.com. And yes, sometimes it is A VERY BIG pain editing or removing all the hate comments. Mutiny.in admins too have faced this same situation, so do all the other renowned discussion forums. My blog too is no stranger to racial slurs either. Most (if not all) renowned News websites have activated comment moderation already to prevent this.
I still remember reading a hilarious post about hate comments, I think it was fakingnews.com (do correct me if I’m wrong), with a fake report on one News site infamous for harboring extremely detestable and insensitive comments targeted at various communities, suddenly amazed that one fine day, there was not even one single hate comment. And so they celebrated and partied.
When it comes to racism or any of the other form of –isms, replying in the same manner only fuels the episode. It won’t stop there, and will only entice others to take part in the discussion in full swing.
Suppose A+B+C+D are members of X and E+F+G+H are members of Y, here’s a small slideshow I made…
You can also download/view the animated gif version by clicking here.
If you flame a community, then not only be prepared to be flamed back by that community, but also expect that community to flame back at your community. Even among individuals, expressing your opinion is bound to create a ripple somewhere. Anonymous cowards everywhere ready to rip you apart and feel good about themselves (to make up for the obvious lack of you know what). You try to make others see things with reason and you’re attacked. The seculars are branded the SICKulars (seriously, I didn’t coin that term. It’s everywhere on the net).
As an admin, I subscribe to Google alerts for key words like “Mizo” and “Mizoram”. Half the results I get disgusts me. But I guess we just move on. If you have a bone to pick with anyone, make sure you address that person and his opinion only. Leave his community or “people” out, else you’re just becoming as bad as he is.
I’ve created three simple smileys, and from today onwards I am going to paste this at various forums where I participate or visit when I see anybody replying with a racial slur because of another racial slur. Feel free to use these images and spread the love.