Social Media Bashing

By Raphy Islam

Over the last decade the only constant friend I’ve had, which I’ve to confess in a rather unfortunate manner, is an inanimate being. It’s all knowing, extremely useful and has become everyone’s most desired tool. It is the internet.

I must admit, I am not a computer wizard but I am blessed for living in the information age. It is rather easy to put anything out there and I had to learn to navigate through piles of misinformation or shiny ads to get to something worthwhile.

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Despite being an above average user of the internet, I am a social media noob. One of the reasons for me to use social media is to find out what’s happening in the world stage of movies and politics. I get all the updates there, whether it’s a superhero movie, a big scandal in the US politics or a very interesting article published by the New Yorker.

As I try to ‘navigate’, some downright disturbing and twisted things pop up. These are mostly very opinionated statuses from random people, which are undeservingly shared by someone.

There’s nothing wrong with someone having an opinion and s/he has the full right to say it out loud. The posts that irritate me are mostly written out of a rather fictitious and vivid imagination. Some of these fictional think pieces are not rare but based on some ICC events which create a whirl of excitement among them.

In the Champions Trophy Final of 2017, India and Pakistan faced each other for the title. The subcontinent is known for its passionate cricket fans, we follow both our own cricket and of the neighboring countries. If someone is a true cricket fan, he must adhere to the fact that the subcontinent is filled with raw talents. Even if you don’t like team India, you have to admit that M. S. Dhoni is a mighty presence on the field, or age could never stop Younus Khan or Misbah-ul-Haq from Pakistan; even after several severe injuries Angelo Mathews comes for his team whenever he is needed for Sri-Lanka.

Among the four full members of the ICC, there is a shared history of violence, unresolved contempt and so forth. But equating a cricket match with the same connotation as the complicated sub-continental politics is not only cringey but also is an ignorant behavior.

Of course there are issues which are done outside the field but are dragged inside the field. There is condescension, a continuous effort to make someone feel inferior but there is no better way to hit back other than in the field. A mentor of mine once told me about the David and Goliath story and how the mythical story is still a relevant factor when an underdog faces a mighty creature. As Pakistan has proved being the Champions, they were barely qualified and everyone wrote them off and they hit back when it mattered the most.

The people writing those ‘think pieces’ don’t even understand why these tournaments are held. These tournaments are there mostly to entertain through athleticism, being an inspiration but most of all showing the spirit of sportsmanship. I apologize for not knowing if this is a direct quote, but I remember that in the stage of life, it’s more important how people conduct themselves when they are up on the pedestal rather than when they are down and out. Likewise in the cricket match if the winning team becomes an arrogant-egomaniac, they will also become the very thing which they despised during their worst times.

In the name of supporting a team, people become like a religious follower as if they were a mindless nationalistic drone. In the age of connectivity, the demeaning of the neighboring country people and their players go to an unprecedented level. That is the very thing the sport tries to eradicate from people.

As the tournament opened, three of the former players of both rivaling nations, India and Pakistan, were brought together in a panel discussion. In an answer, Aamer Sohail, the former captain of Pakistan, explained if it is a patriotism issue then India mustn’t play Pakistan on any level, both bi-lateral and ICC tournaments. Harbhajan Singh, former Indian spinner, aptly finished that thought by supplementing, if it’s an ethical issue for India, they shouldn’t play. But my question remains, would the issues be solved by not playing?

A headline caught my attention, the title itself explains my whole effort to share the notion, ‘Don’t understand patriotism around cricket, says Mashrafe Mortaza.’

As the social networking enhanced platform, trolling also became a reality. For the people who aren’t familiar, an internet troll is used for making fun of things on a sarcastic level on the internet, but now they are used to spew hatred towards anything and everything. In most cases trolling now has engulfed the comment sections of the internet.

Again, social networking was intended towards connecting people, doesn’t this hatred and thinly veiled contempt defeat the whole purpose of this communication?

People say that the reason for the proliferation of the mindless droning is up for the absence of a few things. During the older days, it used to be a conversation, acceptance of facts. Now, people are more relaxed because they can hit the metaphorical eye and not be bothered to see when the eye is blackened. Say anything, share the fabricated and fact-less opinions and stay absolved by living in a post-truth world.

During the uneasy times even, ironically enough, my companion is the internet. I turn towards an artist called Lin and be a little cheered by these simple lines,

‘We lived through times when hate and fear seemed stronger;

We rise and fall and light from dying embers, remembrances that hope and love last longer

And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside…

Now fill the world with music, love and pride.’

(Part of a sonnet performed at Tony Awards 2016)