Restrictions On Social Media Show Govt Is Intolerant Towards Diversity Of Opinion
Sadia Nazir argues that the government’s attempt to restrict social media shows how intolerant it is towards difference of opinion. Diverse voices of people having different narratives are based on their lived experiences and are also true to the spirit of the nation. The concept of nation is made up of ordinary people, not statesmen alone.
Social media is the voice of the masses, as it gives a voice to everyone, even those who do not generally have a say in mainstream politics. The voices that are deliberately ignored by digital or print media are the voices that get space on social media. But do these voices even exist? And must these issues be heard and resolved?
Another important question in the current circumstances would be: Will the ban on social media resolve these issues? It is important to know that people who love the country are ordinary people, the people who are protesting on roads. Do people have no right to lodge their peaceful protest? Those who do so are labeled as traitors. And thereafter, we are left with only a handful of those patriots who run the state institutions.
Does it imply that the only resistance we had, was against the British? And as a result we got all the die-hard nationalist values we never get tired of preaching? Was that nation manufactured in a factory in an artificial way which could no longer even suffer a technical failure?
Do those people who live in this country have no problems and they do not even need to be heard? Is that the only reason worth believing what the rulers tell you? Is the truth of the common masses no more a truth? Are the convicts traitors?
Do the victims have no history? People who teach the truth should know that truth is a force that will tear down the history. When lies are manufactured and truth is distorted , the forms of truth leave their mark on the annals of history in such a way that we can see them peering between the lines. And the nations we find at the height of resistance and all those people who come out to fight the integrity of the constitution and the survival of the country cannot be so easily warded off as traitors.
A nation is a collective community based on different class systems, regions, religions and races which have to face the economic and social discrimination of each other based on the class system. Who will bridge the gap between the rich and the poor while both are part of the same nation? When the poor are oppressed and the state institutions and their constituents do not listen to anyone? We also need to think about the reality that how much freedom we have gained as a nation. The lives of the poor and the helpless have not changed even after the freedom from the colonial rule. Then what kind of liberation we often refer to?
All the social media platforms that give voice to the marginalised, the oppressed and the poor, strengthen their resistance. Social media has successfully created a virtual space where different voices and their freedom of expression on national issues has been made possible.
We are accustomed to weighing things in just two ways. On one side, there are forces of goodness and on the other side are evil. Something is totally right then suddenly something becomes totally wrong. But we also know that life is much more complex in its essence and there is more to life that cannot be put in just two boxes. We need to understand the views of others and find the truth by comparing different points of view on both sides. Social media enables us to provide a space that is neither white nor black. For example, mainstream media in Pakistan has its own objectives and is driven by a political logic. However, social media is not bound by such political logic and can promote voices that cannot be so easily given access to.
Thus, social media not only provides a platform for these voices, but they also provide a place where they can be compared to public statements and where diverse opinions can be presented.These are the voices that have resisted imperialist forces in the past, the imperial system that has now been replaced by state institutions. And the inability of mainstream culture to create political space for muffled voices is directly related to our historical and political landscape.
There are many ethnicities in Pakistan that have different cultural and linguistic identities. Cultural, ethnic and linguistic facts are considered contradictory from the dominant national perspective. Ideas are not products made in factories. Instead, they should be created naturally by the voice of the people. Theory emerges from practice and it cannot be an officially created brand. Diverse voices of people having different narratives are based on their lived experiences and are also true to the spirit of the nation. The concept of nation is made up of ordinary people, not statesmen alone.
A nation is made not just by a handful of rulers. We are all nation. The voices of the masses must be included in the national narrative rather than being oppressed by national narrative. Thanks to social media, it is not impossible to ignore the voices of resistance that are trying to find a place in society to foster a democratic environment.
University of Agriculture Faisalabad