Year-ender: Social media and hate campaigns across 2017

December 29, 2017
Published in Pakistan, Social Buzz

By Minerwa Tahir

KARACHI: Nearly half of the total Pakistani population has access to internet.

According to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), there are 47 million 3G/4G subscribers, 50 million broadband subscribers and 3 million fixed local line subscribers registered with the authority.

Taking a glance at the year that has passed, it seems like two-thirds of the Pakistani population on social media comprises haters. Nothing less, nothing more: expressive, fearless haters.

Hate seems to be the only lubricant oiling the social media machine in Pakistan. Be it Twitter or Facebook, rarely do we come across debates surrounding ideas. Instead, in Pakistan, our debates revolve around hate alone.

By now, we are all well aware of the mechanism – the target is identified for their dissenting views, accorded labels ranging from atheist and traitor to enemy, liar and agent, and is shamed. All this time and effort, just to bash the ‘other’ view. If only we could have steered such dedicated energies in more constructive directions, our accomplishments would have been more material.

Let’s remind ourselves of the times we saw time being wasted in these hate campaigns throughout 2017.

The creepy doctor

Perhaps the most heated discussions (smear campaigns) of this year took place when filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy called out her sister’s doctor for harassment. The doctor had attempted to befriend her on Facebook. Pakistani social media users could no more contain their hate. After all, Sharmeen did overreact. All of us have been to the ER and it is completely okay for the doc to ask you to be friends with him. You know, just for hangouts and all..



So many dheela character women

While Sharmeen falls in this list too, the greatest amount of hate was directed towards MNA Ayesha Gulalai (and her sister), Shireen Mazari’s daughter Imaan Mazari and Malala Yousafzai.


In fact, if you search for Imaan Mazari in Google Images, the first picture is that fake one. The search results are even worse in Ayesha Gulalai’s case. It’s a Youtube video and it is one that I would not even play given the Photoshopped graphic cover image.

Blasphemy brigade

Earlier in the year, five bloggers, including Salman Haider, Ahmed Waqass Goraya and Aasim Saeed, were abducted. The most organized form of smear campaign was unleashed thereafter, accusing the missing men and their supporters of blasphemy. Recently, a court was told that no evidence of blasphemy was found against the men. Yet the hate campaign was and, to an extent, is solid.

While the above-mentioned cases are those that have garnered attention, there are numerous others that fall victim to the propaganda machinery of defensive (pun intended) accounts. The least we can do is learn from what we have achieved with all these hate campaigns throughout the year. We need to be tolerant of the other’s views and agree to disagree with respect. Instead of character assassination and distribution of labels, discussions should revolve around ideas. After all, concerted efforts at all levels are needed to steer the country into the direction of progress.


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Story first published: 29th December 2017

 
 

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