You like it or not, social media is a parallel universe now. Though it works more or less like the real world, it has its own set of rules, which if you don’t adhere to, you are considered an alien. Rather an outcast. But unlike the real world, social media is created on the principles of no curbs, no boundaries, no controls, no scrutiny and above all, a champion of free expression.
Since its inception, it has equipped an ordinary person with the power to express his/her ideas freely without the fear of getting prosecuted.
But with real world and social media colliding with each other on day-to-day basis, or the former trying to control it completely, the lines are getting blurred more often now.
The recent one was when Divisional Kashmir shot an edict informing all district commissioners to get both WhatsApp and Facebooknews pages registered with the government. His argument: they feed the media with wrong information and end up promoting rumours. The case in point was recent alleged molestation bid by an army man in restive Handwara, resulting in five civilian causalities. This, state authorities, believed was result of wrong information fed by a few WhatsApp and Facebook pages, run by individuals.
These admins, as they are called in parallel universe lingo, are mostly those youngsters who believe in the power of a connected world. It is true that these admins or individuals, at times end up writing something that holds no merit or truth, but that never means that they are primary sources for established media houses. Journalists, especially those who work in an active conflict zone like Kashmir, know it quite well what it means to feed stories without confirmation. It rarely happens. The system in vogue is, a journalist gets a tip-off or a call or a message, from his/her source about an event or incident, which a journalist confirms from both the victim and authorities before reporting. Terming these free-soul admins as new vending machines for media is like painting entire city with same colour and brush.
Rather than putting curbs on social media, which was created as free space by the best brains in the world, it is better if we could enhance our checks and balances system.
With technology reaching new heights, every single word typed in this parallel universe leaves its digital footprints behind. Thus, it is quite easy to catch the rumour mongers, if any. In a place like Kashmir, government owns some of the sophisticated cyber surveillance gadgets. Why not use them if it is needed. But putting curbs on entire social media will only end up pushing Kashmir back to the dark ages. Is it proving Orwell right! If a citizen is not free to express his/her thoughts inside the most comfortable zones, then where will?
Getting permission from authorities to use something that has actually revolutionised the world is absurd, if not insane.
Let us at least have e-freedom.