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Citizen Voices

The Increasing Intolerance On Social Media In Pakistan

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Access to information has become much easier in the last few years since the availability of affordable smartphones and due to advancement in internet provision. Now, information or news can reach every nook and corner of the society; from a corporate worker to a street vendor, from a professor to the shopkeeper.

The right to comment or analyse the information has also been provided to the recipients of this information or news. Leading social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are playgrounds for everyone to argue, comment or contribute in any form. This part of the picture is encouraging but the other side of the story is not so.

The increasing intolerance, hatred and impatience are alarming in a developing society which consists of nearly 70 percent youth. We are witnessing an overwhelming propagation of fake news and abusive posts.

Religious fanaticism has already been persisting in our society for the last two decades but the inclusion of political polarization in youth has completely shut their brains. Supporters of political parties or leaders end up intimidating and bullying their opponents on social media.

Since political history has never been so significant and undemocratic norms in political parties is unparalleled, the increase in such brawls was imminent. There could be various reasons behind this development, but lack of knowledge and education is the main cause. The fake Facebook or Twitter posts are the only source of information for them and if it suits or satisfies their ego, they don’t think for a second before sharing it. And of course, our biased media ignites the flames further and the funded social media teams of different political parties and groups keep these heated arguments and fake posts alive.

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One other psychological impact of these platforms is the increase in immoral attitude in terms of lies and vanity. Current research regarding this behaviour observes that people talk more about the better aspects of their lives and make it seem like they are having a great life, which can lead to other people feeling worse about themselves.

However, such behaviours are somehow overshadowed by the other major evils on social media. The situation becomes extremely critical when such a platform is used for a hidden malicious agenda whether it be religious, racial or political in nature. This can end up taking someone’s life and we have witnessed a few such cases in the past few years. This scenario was already warned of many times through newspapers and documentaries which pointed out the increasing religious intolerance in society.

The impact of such hatred via social media has also been studied numerous times. The ‘change’ in this behaviour cannot be brought overnight, however, there are some measures that can be done at the individual and governmental level.

As a responsible user, one should always discourage such acts and never hesitate in reporting any kind of propaganda based on hatred, division and animosity among the people. Constructive criticism can play an integral role in this regard.

However, the main responsibility falls on the government which should keep a strict eye on the increasing number of fake accounts that peddle religious and racial hatred, and engage in political vendetta and other nefarious activities on social media platforms.

As we are on the critical edge of history where it should be decided now if we really want to make progress to become a moderate society or end up destroying ourselves like some Middle East countries in the last decade.

At the end, the ‘change’ starts within us and we can create this change by setting examples for others. Better sense can prevail this way; this is the least we can expect.

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