I spend a lot of time on the internet. As most people do. At least the ones who have access to it. The internet surrounds us these days. It’s everywhere. I mean, something like Twitter has become an essential platform for political and social discourse. Something that was supposed to exist so that us commoners could have day to day updates of our favorite celebrities has become a serious ground for what I like to call, opinion breeding. There might be a word for this which I’m not being able to place. So I’m just going to go with Opinion Breeding.
I feel the Indian internet has become an extremely dangerous entity. And it might lead to a lot of chaos. There has been a lot of toxicity across all platforms. From Whatsapp to Twitter to Facebook to Reddit and whatever else people use. By toxicity I mean that people are being pressured into having opinions these days. You can’t just have progressive or regressive thoughts anymore. You have to justify them online (like I have been doing with this blog every day for the past 116 days). And no matter what opinion you have on any given subject, you will find your kind of people online. And I think that’s leading to an extremely heated environment on the Indian internet. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a liberal or a right winger.
I’m gonna stick to two examples. There’s a digital news website called Scroll.in which is for liberals who just absolutely hate Modi and the entire right wing or ‘bhakts’ as they call it. And they paint them a certain way for the heavy majority of liberals who read their stuff. On the other side there’s a website called The Frustrated Indian. These guys follow the right wing and love Modi. They also create a certain persona for all liberals or ‘libtards’ as they call it. To be very honest, I don’t like either of them. Because the people who run either of these atrocities are extremely jaded in their world view. And they’re building up an environment of extreme hate for people with slightly different opinions.
This is what happens every time either of these content houses puts out an opinion piece on anything that’s happening in India. Let’s take demonetization as an example because it’s the most recent one. Scroll will say something to the effect of ‘Fuck Demonetization. People are inconvenienced. The government sucks!’. And then The Frustrated Indian will put something out like ‘Fuck the libtards. These people are pussies. They can stand in line for ColdPlay but not for a greater good.’ Then the gremlins, better known as comment-ers will show up and stir the pot a little bit. A couple of them will disagree in the comment section, only to be bombarded by the majority that happens to be on that specific page. Then the people in the majority of THAT particular page will feel validated because they won an internet debate.
But, this is happening on both sides, validating every one. I feel this thing can lead to catastrophic results. Simply because, now both sides think they’re right because they’ve only ever been around the opinion breeding ground of their own liking. Every once in a while, when they step out of that jaded circle, in real life, they’ll realize that people are still the same and every one still has the same opinions despite whatever happens on the internet. This will piss them off even more leading to a much bigger culture shock. Only a matter of time before this anger transcends the internet. I guess we should all just move to Sweden. Cause this place is gonna get messed up very soon. But in the meantime, I’d suggest that we all try to consume content that is neutral on its subject matter, irrespective of our political leanings. Especially when it comes to News Media outlets. Anyway, that’s all I’m gonna say. Do what you want.
P.S – The Frustrated Indian and Scroll.in are just examples. There are tonnes like them who alienate the other side without any intent of a meaningful dialogue.