First there was Facebook, joining people all over the world. Now you could know what your friend a continent across was doing at that very moment. Early days of Facebook were filled with “XYZ is bored of studying” or “ABC can’t wait to go out tonight” (we did this, don’t lie). Then someone discovered the share button. Now all you see on Facebook is “XYZ shared Best of Tumblr’s picture” or “ABC shared Dog’s post”. Very few people write their own status’ anymore yet our newsfeeds fuller than they were back in the good old days.
Moving onto Whatsapp. A perfect forum to message friends, and family alike. It was connected by the phone number. Little work, all the socialisation. Messages of all sorts were sent, from “Hello, good morning” from that one creepy guy who’ll never let go of the fact that you aren’t really friends to your parents messaging you a memory that just popped into their head at that very moment. It brought people closer. Now the only messages I get across any of my groups are shared messages. The cheesy ones, the ones that talk of “patriotism” or of an old woman who sells street food and how badly the government has treated her. Quite insightful but not personal.
These social media forums were supposed to bring people together, to create a place for the amalgam of ideas. Instead now they have become just the opposite. They have become a factory to mould people into a person, not real, not perfect, but highly opinionated. It doesn’t even matter if the initial person agrees with these opinions when they enter the factory. When they come out, it is a guarantee they will all think alike.
Why has that been happening? I am no psychologist, but in my limited understanding of the human mind, I believe that “sharing” removes the individuality element of the idea. Two people may agree or disagree with an idea, but their reasons for doing so might be vastly different. Or the actual perception of the idea might be ever so slightly different. “Sharing” has managed to take the eloquent people in the society and imprint their opinions on the masses. Because initially there may be a small discomfort you feel when you read the shared post or message. The ideas on the screen look exactly like yours yet, it doesn’t feel right. But there is no way in hell you could post something better so you might as well “share” and in doing so you replace your ideology with this ideology, ever so slightly different from yours. Hence, you think the same as the original author of the piece and the effect propagates.
The issue is much larger than a meme or a post on how some Indian somewhere in the world did something. Its powers help propagate hate. Hate, a word too strong for some people to use, yet so often felt. More often than not, the shared posts are hate posts. Without the ability to distinguish between hate you inherently feel (like when my fire alarm decides to go off even though nothing is burnt) to hate someone else feels (because the intensities with which people feel are different) because that is what you have read and decided to share.
Were people to stop for a moment, think, analyse the piece in front of them to find the bit that makes them feel uncomfortable, they might feel more obliged to indicate that. Maybe write their own post, or even more conveniently a little post on the share, just indicating that, preserving the originality and clarity of their own thoughts. But that’s wasting too much time. How else will they scroll right to the end of their Facebook feed and go back to the same feeling of boredom that brought them to Facebook in the first place quickly?
So I beg of all of you to think a moment before sharing. Think about what you are sharing. Think about whether you agree with it 100%. Think about your audience, and the message they will get when they read it. Just think. And maybe we won’t enter a dystopian 1984 world where everyone believes and embraces everything that comes out of their screen.