Social Media: More bane than boon

That social media is a great equaliser of the media space is irrefutable. However, it has also become a space where personal attacks, abuse, stalking, trolling has made it a weapon for the release of mental toxins unheard of before. Each time society is at the crossroads the space for dialogue breaks down and people take to social media to release their pent up angst. A crisis therefore is like a pressure cooker valve that allows steam to be released but how. The Khasi Lineage Act Amendment Bill, 2018 passed by the Khasi Hills District Council (KHDC) which says inter alia that a Khasi woman marrying a non-Khasi man will be stripped of her Khasi status and the privileges of a Schedule Tribe, with her children facing the same fate has sharply divided Khasi society like never before. Judging from social media posts which today seem like the societal barometer, those for the Bill are largely male, young, irrational with the, “my way or the highway,” attitude writ in every word they spew out. Those who oppose the Bill on the other hand comprise several outspoken young women who have aired their views against the Bill in different media platforms. They have used language and reason to communicate their thoughts and have laid bare their very souls. Anyone who disagrees with them must also use the language of civility. But that seems like asking for too much.

Khasi society claims to be democratic and seeks to remind its members of a hoary past every now and again. We are told that our ancestors argued out societal issues for days on end until a consensus is arrived at. That must have been a carefully cultivated myth for that is not what the society is today. The KHDC chief leads from the front when it comes to crass language and abuse while referring to those who oppose the Bill in question. If people in responsible position can get away with such vile language then it becomes easier for others to do the same and hide in the anonymity that social media affords them. We now see Khasi misogyny upfront and there is no one to temper this down because the statements on social media get them endless applause. At this rate the descent into chaos seems imminent.

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