The corona-incited lockdown that India went through in the last three months led to unprecedented psychological changes in people. There were reports of depression and frustration and productivity declined among many. While many people took to the Internet to creatively use their time, there were also many who misused this tool of empowerment in mischief mongering.

Lockdown and the resultant lack of movement and activity in people led to the excessive use of the Internet and social media. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and the likes of that were flooded by messages and posts, pictures, videos, tweets, comments, arguments and slanders like never before.

Many rumour mongers and divisive dimwits used this opportunity to their advantage and did what they could do best – i.e. spread social dissention and tension in society for no reason. On many occasions, old, doctored or irrelevant photos and videos were shared and circulated at appropriate times and positioned strategically to whip up emotions and cause widespread disruptions in normalcy.

We must not forget that in India emotions run high and there are millions of undiscerning, less literate and gullible users of media tools who can turn volatile by seemingly innocuous posts or messages which are culturally or communally sensitive. Therefore, utmost caution must be exercised by all while forwarding, sharing, circulating or generating posts without checking their veracity and their possible implication on society and social peace. It is unfortunate that several times the police had to chip in and issue warnings of stringent action against use and spread of such irresponsible messages that could potentially be a threat to communal harmony.

We must remember that a year back Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself had to speak out dissuading people from using the social media tools for spreading hate. This is a negative side of social media and its use. India is a very diverse society where the balance in relations is precariously maintained. Any tilt in the balance caused by deliberate maligning of certain groups or individuals can unleash chaos.

In this era of fast information dissemination, news spreads like wild fire and thus any evocative or inciting or insinuating message originating in one part of the country can cause law and order problem in other part or several other locations. With easy accessibility of mobile and internet with commoners, it is difficult to locate the perpetrators behind the screen and thus individual responsibility and conscience matters a lot.

A police state is the last thing we need or want in our society where every post of ours is scanned and censored. For a mischief of a few rumor mongers and vested interest groups, the whole of civil society must not suffer. We must need to learn to harvest from the internet what is good, useful and intellectually or physically enriching and quash what is redundant, in bad taste or provocative, for in the end, human relations, peace and camaraderie are more important aspects of life and brings greater happiness to all of us than interacting spitefully on social media


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