The advent of smart phones has changed the way the world operates. People can practically live on their own if they have a smart phone with an internet connection. The changes in lifestyle due to the enhancement of the internet facilities coupled with the smart phone revolution has made it really easy for everyone to manage their life.
Every scientific invention has its fair share of benefits and also its drawbacks. The advancement of internet technology along with the introduction of smart phones has practically placed the world on one’s finger tips.
The increasing availability of the internet coinciding with the mushrooming of social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram has given rise to whole new set of issues which disturbs the mental equilibrium of an individual. All these social media platforms are nothing but avenues to network and interact with people. There are various stories about people finding good friends and like-minded individuals in these platforms but that is only one part of the story. There are also numerous instances of cyber bullying and stalking which is happening in these platforms which will have a detrimental effect on the mental health of the victim.
The case in point is Twitter which is a social media platform in which people can share their opinions about everything under the sun. The sharing of opinions invariably leads to an argument and all will be well and good as long as they keep it civil and substantiate their argument with facts. This is the way an argument is supposed to happen but in reality the amount of vitriol that is showered on an individual for having a different opinion is really astounding.
These social media platforms encourage the herd mentality and if anyone is having an opinion which is against the majoritarian view they are subjected to the vilest of abuses. This acts as a trigger for the group of people who are against this view and they hound the other person out to such an extent that the person who is at the receiving end will be pushed to shut themselves off from the social media platform completely.
Most of the political parties have woken up to the power of social media in influencing public opinion and they have their own IT wings which will function as the social media arm of the political party. These IT wings in most cases are used as troll armies to suit their needs and if they find a person with an opinion which is not in line with them they hound the person with the choicest of abuses.
The main reason for this kind of behavior is the lack of tolerance among the people in general and the fans of the artists and supporters of a political party in particular. In the recent past the level of tolerance has gone down considerably in the public domain and most of them don’t have the courage to accept their mistakes and move on. Instead they are looking for ways to get even with the people who indulged in the argument.
If the person who is swimming against the tide of with conflicting opinions is a woman the level of abuse gets all the filthier. There are numerous instances when the woman in question is subjected to the vilest kind of abuses. The women will be abused with insane levels of profanity and it normally ends in rape and death threats. The women are also stalked by the trolls virtually by sending them messages with nude pictures on them. In some cases the virtual stalking has spilled over to the real world and the victims live in the perpetual fear of getting doxed. Even school and college going kids are not spared from the vicissitudes of the cyber world.
According to a 2018 report in the Forbes magazine cyber bullying as a phenomenon is most prevalent in India with 37% of parents saying that their kid has been a victim of cyber bullying. This has got to do a lot with the mob mentality which is on the rise in India.
As per another report which was conducted by Symantec 8 out of 10 individuals are subject to the different types of cyber bullying in India. Out of these around 63% faced online abuses and insults, and 59% were subject to false rumors and gossips for degrading their image.
This is an alarming trend which shows no signs of abating. The most worrying fact about cyber bullying is that a majority of its victims are teenagers. One can argue that there are various laws in place to counter cyber bullying but until the victims are provided the support to go ahead and report it to the concerned authorities the laws will remain just that and it will not have any concrete meaning.
It is the responsibility of every individual to create a positive climate for interaction in social media. It is really important to call out cyber bullying and the victims have to be encouraged to talk about it with people who are close to them as a first step. In certain cases the bullying crosses the line and morphs in to criminal harassment and in those instances people at the receiving should save all the posts so that one can approach the authorities and file a case against the perpetrators. So it is vital for everyone to safeguard themselves from bullying and that can be done by going private on our social media accounts and not engaging with strangers. This is imperative especially for teenagers. Similarly parents should also monitor the online activities of their kids and support them if they are victims of cyber bullying. This is an ongoing issue which has to be tackled with vigor by everyone by standing together against it.
In short everyone should use the social media platforms responsibly to eradicate this menace which is threatening to scar youngsters for life. The people who are victims of cyber bullying should be supported in any way shape or form and it is high time that stringent action is taken against the people who are indulging in these despicable activities. This will go a long way in eradicating this menace.
- Kaarthik Kumar