Who would have imagined, years ago, that our first priority before enjoying a delicious meal with someone we cherish would first need to be documented so that it could be posted on Instagram and Facebook?
Who would have thought that our children would start learning what is appropriate, not at a university, so that their social media content would not appear as an attack on any individual or institution?
While we definitely are living in an age where communication and dissemination of that communication are the fastest they’ve ever been, we find ourselves restricted within our own supposed ‘freedom’. In other words, we have the right to think whatever we want and say how we feel – as long as it does not annoy anyone that is perceived to be important.
When did being politically correct become more important than being just and fair or only acting like a decent human being?
And it’s certainly great that we all, being so connected online brings with it the ability to report on things as and when they happen. Everyone has subsequently turned into a journalist, ready to report their story to the world, even if that story is not worthy of the attention it seems to get.
Getting behind serious issues requires a braveness that many simply do not appear to have. Or has it just become so normal to shy away from talking about difficult topics?
Are we restricting ourselves from thinking and acting on these serious topics because we are being conditioned to realise it is not safe to talk about it in a social scenario?
Would we rather be the ones commenting and talking safely behind a screen instead of the one being spoken and written about?
Are we, as a society, becoming numb to issues that we should be aware of and doing something about and instead choosing to focus on less serious and consequential content?
In other words, have we become too scared to speak out because it could have adverse consequences?
Last week, we saw a Mauritian national living In Dubai subsequently detained – with no formal charge even to date – and flown back to Mauritius because of allegedly posting content that was deemed to cause a threat to Mauritius. Sheltered by a law that states that the Dubai authorities, in accordance with the Mauritian authorities, can take such action if the person is deemed to be someone that could be a possible threat.
But the thing is that there are always two sides to every coin. On one hand, we have a plethora of people hiding behind their online identities and having a grand talk about what is wrong and why it’s so wrong and how wrong the people are who are doing the wrong.
And on the other side, there is the issue of why they feel they need to remain anonymous keyboard warriors. The extent of their activism is limited to this platform and nothing really comes out of anything. Because, why must someone put their neck on the line and publish their opinion if they could very well be arrested and detained for it?
We need to ask ourselves, are status updates or 144-character limit headlines enough to inspire change in our surroundings? Surely as fast as they appear online is as quickly as they are forgotten about…
Or is that just as far as we are willing to go without investing too much into bringing about the change and remaining out of potential trouble for asking the ‘wrong questions’ or having the wrong kind of opinions?
We’ve turned into creatures who would rather remain behind a screen and have a lot to say but are now compelled to venture out into the real world in order for us to have something to update our statuses with.
And, in a time where the media have such an overwhelmingly larger voice than us – mere individuals – they instead demonstrate their agendas through the news that is more about criticising everyone than actually inspiring their readers or viewers to DO SOMETHING. The news is less about what people need to know and more about how they personally feel about what happens in our country. When did journalism turn into one giant opinion column?
What example does this leave for the rest of us who now also have a voice online?
Everyone potentially has the opportunity to go viral and have a ton of attention paid to them; this is no longer exclusive to media houses. And while this is the way things seem to be in our society, we forget that we have younger people behind us, watching all this taking place and thinking, “This is just the way things are”.
Are we conditioning the generations behind us to stop questioning things that seem and appear a bit ‘off’?
Are we inadvertently telling them that it’s ok to think but not too much?
Are we honestly showing them that scrolling through their social media, watching cat memes going viral day-in and day-out is where we’ve reached as the human race?
If we ourselves are not taking anything seriously anymore, how can we expect the young people behind us to want to change anything?
Do we really think that they are going to come behind us ready to fight for justice and change?
Are they going to change the course of history because they have an innate feeling that it’s just what they should be doing?
The answer is no. They are not about to receive some major epiphany that will inspire them to revolt intellectually against the poor examples we are showing them.
The change starts with each and every single one of us. It’s not just about having a really strong opinion about something that is so clearly an injustice, but it’s about collectively voicing it out and taking the necessary action against the wrongdoing.
And it’s not just about doing something for the sake of showing you did it either.
We need to demonstrate conviction in our beliefs and stop believing the misconception that we can trust anything we see at face value. Where has the drive of wanting to question everything gone?
Why have we become so accepting of lies when the facts so clearly glare at us sometimes?
Is it just easier to accept things and say, “It is what it is”?
The fact remains. The more of us who choose to DO something, the less chance we have of being ignored or silenced. And the less chance we are giving those in the wrong to carry on doing what they should not be doing at all.