Facebook dangers: Satisfying our inner hero

Published: September 24, 2011
Email

Facebook allows one the dangerous power of hurting people with one’s words and misguiding them as well.

Facebook, undoubtedly, has brought about an immensely significant social revolution over the past few years.  It is now not just any other social networking website. In more ways than one, Facebook is a virtual reflection of our personality, beliefs, ideologies, likes and dislikes, and so on.

What Facebook has gradually accomplished is that it has given everyone a voice; it has given people to opportunity to express their opinion about any matter, no matter how sensitive or controversial, to several hundred people in just a matter of seconds by typing out a few lines. However, while this freedom to express oneself may include harmless status updates about, say a new pet, it also allows one the dangerous power of hurting people with one’s words and misguiding them as well.

I witnessed a similar atrocity this week when the phrase “protest against the killing of a 7th grader” with reference to my high-school flashed across my home page. The absurd notion of a school’s administration being party in the murder of an innocent student was clearly not something I was ready to believe so easily. However, considering the current situation of the country, hitting a new low with such an explicit act of cruelty was, sadly, not completely out of the question either.

As I searched the page (which has now been deleted) for some credible account of the incident, I noticed that it gained more and more buzz by the minute. All sorts of mixed reactions started coming through. Some were rational while some were backed by unnecessary emotions, with many people ready to take a strong stand against this supposed brutal injustice. Finally I found the article that had stirred up the whole episode – a dramatic account of the child’s death that blamed a particular teacher and the principal on an anonymous blog post run by an unnamed student of the institution.

Yes, a child had tragically died during school hours. But jumping on the blaming bandwagon before finding out the facts was preposterous to say the least. In a matter of three hours, people had started abusing the teacher and were ready to bring justice to the child.

Justice for what exactly, may I ask? An account of his tragic death as reported by a blogger whose real identity was concealed under the shield of anonymity. Very intelligent, and convenient indeed!

What is sadder is that many people whom I knew to be of sound minds were attending this protest virtually (because of course, actually going to any protest would be too much of a hassle) to gain some sort of pseudo self-righteous satisfaction. Nobody bothered to check up on the details. Just the caption of the page was enough for them to show their undying support for the poor child.

With many people supporting the movement, the story gained more and more popularity. It wasn’t until the next day when another newspaper printed an account of the death that the truth was finally unveiled. The same retractors who were ready to take drastic measures a day ago then casually stated:

“If the family isn’t pressing charges against the school then who are we to object” and went on with their lives without as much of an ounce of guilt over the lie they had perpetuated.

In all this propaganda about protesting, the major issue at hand went astray. A young human life had been lost. Instead of praying for him and his family, most of the people had taken this death as a cue to fulfil their dreams to bring about a revolution in the system rather than taking a more humane approach.

We all live in a world where accomplishing something heroic, even in the slightest sense, makes us feel like we’ve made a difference. With Facebook giving us a platform to finally point people on what we believe is the correct path, we rarely leave an opportunity to display this freedom.

An incident like this is the perfect bait for us to flaunt our inner hero in an attempt to make a change for the better. It is this desire to do something significant that propels us towards indulging in irrational acts such as the one mentioned above. This tendency takes away from the fact that sometimes change really isn’t required. So, the next time you click the “like” button on someone’s comments that deride another individual, make sure to double check your facts first.

aatir.siddique

Aatir Siddique

A student currently pursuing an undergraduate degree at LUMS.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.