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Freedom of Speech, Thought, and the Internet Intolerance

, November 2, 2015, 0 Comments

internet-intolerance-freedom-of-speech-marketexpress-inSocial media has liberalized human expression! Through a Twitter or a Facebook account, we express ourselves relentlessly over a bundle of issues. It is a kind of revolution that has sparked real life movements, globally. From the Egyptian Tahrir Square, to the Turkish Gezi park, or the Occupy Wall Street campaign in the US, the internet driven revolutions have swept through richer and poorer nations with similar intensity and vigor. However, there is something equally disturbing about this dynamic world of internet.

Over the years the social media apps like Twitter and Facebook have been used actively by the people around the world to indicate their zero tolerance for corruption, fundamentalism, sectarianism, fascism, and terrorism. However, the same people have shown patterns of ugly intolerance over certain trivial matters. In India, it’s a common practice to rip off the personal matters of their national Cricket team players when they lose badly. People have been nasty enough to bad mouth certain player’s girlfriend from his poor show in a particular game. On the other hand, a flop Bollywood flick unleashes a flood of derogatory remarks targeting the featuring actors, mostly in the case of the worn out and the comeback stars. Unsurprisingly, while discussing politics and foreign affairs people are often at their worst. What really makes people so damn angry? What makes them so ugly and nasty online?

Freedom vs Responsibility

In order to achieve lasting and more constructive purposes freedom should be used with utmost responsibility. Follow any trending topics on Twitter or any Facebook post in India and one would find an unstoppable outpouring of negative, nasty, and highly deplorable comments. It’s indeed astonishing to see that most people do it without a guilt or remorse. What could possibly explain this? Perhaps, it’s easier to conceal one’s true identity online by using pseudonyms. Or the fact that one would not be held accountable for his/her comments or opinion empowers many to behave the way they do. Importantly, as internet policing is a highly condemnable act in a democratic environment, it becomes difficult to control the rise of this online venom.

Freedom of Speech and Thought – Do we deserve it?

While any society must respect the freedom of speech and thought of its Denizens, it’s the responsibility of the Denizens to make the most of this freedom. Freedom of speech is not about passing a nasty personal remark about someone’s personal life. Neither is freedom of thought about venting out views that tears into someone’s self-esteem and dignity. As a matter of fact, free speech and thoughts were in a much better shape during India’s pre-independence era. The likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel, for instance, inspired millions to galvanize a movement to win back their dignity and honor by resisting the British colonization. Interestingly, neither in writing, nor verbally did these legends passed derogatory remarks about our European oppressors!

Many of us are well educated. Many of us are raised gracefully in good families. Many of us, for sure, are proud citizens of one of the oldest civilizations. Why then it is so hard for us to practice civility online? Neither our parents nor our respective religions taught us to be spiteful, nasty, and insensitive.

So from where and how did we accumulate so much rage and hatred that we relentlessly pour over into the internet blogs, Tweets, and Facebook walls? If we are so clueless about what freedom of speech and thought means. If we are so incapable of exercising these values in the right spirit. Do we really deserve them? While we are ultra vocal about the political and religious intolerance why on the other hand our online intolerance of trivial matters goes unchecked?

It’s time we start behaving like a civilization! It’s time we stop transpiring internet into an ungovernable mess!