Trial by Social Media

Please forgive me for the dramatic title of this post. I don’t usually write opinion pieces on my blog but recently I have felt compelled to.

A few incidents that don’t matter a hoot in the larger scheme of things, have nevertheless, affected my overly-sensitive nature and will be the focus of this post. These incidents have led me to believe that social media is too often brandished as a weapon to ‘destroy’ someone’s reputation, among other things. In the words of Lord Acton, “Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely”. When social media makes us feel invincible, it has the potential to be seriously misused.

You don’t have to agree with anything I say here, and you can share your opinions respectfully in the comments section, but please don’t throw brickbats! I’m putting myself at the mercy of social media 🙂

  1. THE ‘VIRAL’ VIDEO ABOUT REBEL WOMEN THAT DESERVE TO BE RAPED:

When an older woman with a traditional bent of mind, thought it fit to school a group of girls in a restaurant about the length of their dresses, telling them they deserved to be raped for wearing short clothes; the girls retaliated by cornering her in a shop and forcing her to apologise for her remarks if she wanted to be saved the ignominy of the video going “viral”.

There are so many things wrong here. Firstly, the older woman’s remarks using the word ‘rape’ loosely, are absolutely heinous. Like seriously, wtf lady?! Even if she thought it, and I’m sure there are many people in our ‘steeped-in-excessive-morality’ country that think the same way, who gave her the right to force her opinions on to complete strangers?

While the lady was clearly wrong in her moral policing of these girls, these girls also took it upon themselves to moral police her behaviour through social media. I personally don’t feel that this method was justified. In the video, anger and loud remarks were the clear arbiter of justice, which can never lead to a rational conclusion.

Let me make it clear that I am not supporting the older woman. In fact, I pity her, as it seems to me that she has never been encouraged to think for herself. This lady desperately needs lessons on the importance of life and personal liberty, but does she deserve punishment by social media?

  1. THE ‘CANCELLATION’ OF JAMES CHARLES ON YOUTUBE:

James Charles, a 19-year-old male makeup artist, has seen a monumental rise as a Youtuber who creates makeup tutorials online. From what I understand, his audience consists primarily of a younger demographic. Tati Westbrook, another Youtuber, has been in the online beauty guru business for almost 10 years, and till last week she had a mere 5 million followers as opposed to Charles who had amassed 16.5 million in just 2-3 years.

Westbrook launched a brand of hair and skin supplements last year, to much controversy. Charles, ostensibly her best friend in the industry, didn’t advertise them on his channel as he didn’t feel right about advocating supplements to young people. Last week, in exchange for free security at the Coachella music festival, he promoted Westbrook’s rival supplements company, on social media.

Westbrook was very upset, having always given free publicity to Charles’ collaborative products, and took it personally when he promoted a rival after clearly stating he wouldn’t promote hers. In response, she made an emotional video calling Charles out on his “bad friend” behaviour. This video lost Charles millions of followers who unsubscribed to his Youtube channel, and Westbrook gained millions, essentially leading to the “cancellation of James Charles”.

So, here’s what I think is wrong here. Charles should not have supported the rival company, having previously made a statement that he would not support any kind of supplements on his channel. However, Westbrook was equally wrong in punishing Charles through social media, and effectively cutting a huge wedge into his following, which is ultimately the basis of his profession. She could have taken the high road in this situation, without harming a former friend. After all, it is his decision who he chooses to support, however wrong others may think it is. Westbrook could have shunned Charles in personal life and stopped promoting all his products on her channel, instead of making a 40-minute long video deriding him personally. This may not have gained her followers, but it would’ve certainly gained her respect. Did Charles deserve to be punished by social media?

  1. THE GAME OF THRONES DEBACLE:

“Game of Thrones” is the most iconic TV show of all time. Since it first aired in 2011, it has caught the collective imagination of millions of people around the world. Based on George R.R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire”, which is incomplete; the show moved beyond the narratives of the books, on popular demand.

The show’s finale season ended last Sunday, and through its 6-week duration, social media was wild with accusations of the final season failing to live up to the magic of previous ones.

Firstly, that’s completely understandable- this season has not been penned by the creator of the story, and is bound to feel different. Secondly, one can’t always have a favourable, neat and expected ending. Thirdly and most importantly, it’s just a TV show! One that has given many of us hours of viewing pleasure. Does it deserve to be punished on social media?

I’ll end this random rant by saying that I’m as guilty as most people of being affected by social media and everything that happens on it. However, I realise that anything is only as powerful as we make it. Can we collectively pledge to use social media to spread positivity instead of perpetuating more negativity? There’s enough of that in this world.

I was on a trip to Agra with my family last weekend, when I received news that a friend from my school days, collapsed while jogging one morning and died at the untimely age of 31. He and I had not been in touch, and he had forsaken social media many years ago, which made the distance seem even more. His sudden death made me aware of the pointlessness of my petty concerns.

Unable to process the fact that he had gone, I kept thinking of him back in school- his tall, lanky frame, laconic expressions and witty remarks. I turned to social media and dug out a couple of pictures from a few years ago, and saw him once again- happy and frozen in time.

Perhaps there is something to be said for the power of social media, after all.

trial by social media

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If you enjoyed reading this post, you may enjoy reading my first ebook “Tales From Travel Treasury: An Alliterative Anthology”, which is available for download for FREE for a limited time here.

This blog is a part of the #LetsBlogWithPri Campaign hosted by Prisha Lalwani from www.mummasaurus.com. I would like to thank Sweta Kachhap for introducing me in the blog train. You can read her blog here. I would like to introduce Shruti Mirchandani. You can read her blog here.

*This is not a sponsored post.

**Copyright in all pictures belongs to nooranandchawla.

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48 Thoughts

  1. Wonderfully written and I completely agree with you over all this. I’m glad there are more people with such thought process. The lady at the home store commenting on the girls and their outfit was one such incident which actually made me sympathize with the lady, not just for her sick thinking but also because “teaching her a lesson” rather turned into bullying!

  2. I do believe that people have taken social media too far. I use it to promote my blog, to check on people I know and read about books and blogs I follow. I do not shame people; I don’t look for trouble, and I hope trouble doesn’t look for me.
    I’m from a time when SM didn’t exist, so, I can live without it, but it’s nice to have.

  3. Haha the title was dramatic but I agree with you on the lady case. but I think James Charles deserves the punishment as he promoted the rival company and Tati helped James in everything situation and never asked anything in return. They had a mother son relationship

  4. Social media is funny place. It can be used for good as well as bad. While I cannot judge anyone for what they did not knowing what circumstance they were in, all I can say is that as much as it becomes our moral duty to use it for more good than for bad, it also becomes equally important how we choose to support or shun it! Lovely, thought provoking write up I must say! Keep sharing!

  5. Sometimes for the shake of Social media video people unnecessary hype the scenario which might not needed. If I am talking about the mentality of the lady (though most of the people are thinking in same way) we should teach her instead of that scene. Sometimes propaganda are much than the actual scenario.

  6. Gosh about point 1, it was totally what I was trying to tell my friends the other day. I have to show them this article. Aptly written.

  7. To begin with, there is no doubting the fact that since the advent of social media we have lost the human touch majorly and the virtual world dominates our sensitivities. In all the three incidents listed in the blog I personally feel context varies and so do the moral technicalities.
    The lady was wrong in her approach obviously and the girls’ action was a reaction to it.
    The dispute between the YouTube creators was more of a publicity stunt for the sake of fame and money and is not even worth discussing.
    And as for the GOT series, it was again a case of public expectations, brand value and monetary aspects which forced them to compromise with the creativity.

    Having said that, I appreciate the concern raised and the intent behind it for deep down we have stopped behaving as normal human beings!

  8. Social Media is really powerful and even has the potential of turning into a Frankenstein. Harnessing social media and also knowing when to ignore it is so important for all of us.

  9. I totally agree with each word you have written. Somewhere social media is driving our lives. Few things are positive and few things are affecting others mental health.

  10. That viral video where the lady talks about raping girls just because they wear a particular style of clothing really digusted me . :/ But later on she apologised but I hope no girl has to hear something like that ever again. 🙂

  11. Social media has the power to bring out the best and worst in us all. That said I sadly do think that the loudest people are those we pay attention to. I know a lot of people such as myself who often avoid topics either because we don’t want to be a part of a drama, don’t agree or don’t want to discuss things with people who have never heard of terms like “logic”, “evidence” and “respectful language”. Many engage in things that are not meant for them to begin with, and it is up to us to choose what we want to be a part of. I’ve tapped out a few times and luckily you can easily do that. It’s healthy sometimes to discover that there’s a much real world just outside the window.

  12. You have made your point loud and clear.

    And I appreciate your honesty which is well evident here.

  13. Quite an interesting post ,it’s a democratic world every one has the right to share their opinion (not referring to incident1). Simply make it or break it

  14. You have put across some fantastic thoughts on the way people have used and abused the power of social media.
    It seems that only negativity and moral policing of seems to be going viral.

  15. Thank you for always adding your voice to the conversation! We need everyone to continue pounding on the glass ceiling of rape culture until it is gone for good.

    In terms of social media, while I agree that it often makes things into bigger deals than they should be, I also think it provides a valuable service for people in terms of giving us all a platform to say how we feel. It’s so easy to get caught up in the negative parts, but everything we do and all the ways we interact are a part of the vast tapestry that is human behavior!

  16. I agree with your thoughts here. What the girl did to the aunty was far and beyond what the aunty did to her. Similarly, public shaming of a person you once called a friend is the worst route anyone can take. Speaks massively about the person you are!

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