Raymond Davis and uncontrollable social media
Davis' release made me realise that social media is out of control; people spread 'news' that is completely untrue.
I realised the impact of social media on Wednesday when the news of Raymond Davis' release was announced on news channels.
I am a journalist, but I wasn’t as quick to disseminate information as social network websites like Facebook and Twitter were.
The ‘breaking news’ had barely hit the airwaves when my phone, email inbox and Facebook were flooded with messages. People were looking for confirmation of the news, personal opinions and, of course, were venting anger against the government.
Less than an hour later, as more information was revealed, discussions and debates began to emerge. I took a keen interest and silently observed how Pakistanis all over the world reacted to the news. One group accused the government of everything from conspiracies and propaganda to corruption and bribery.
At the same time, many supported the government too. This group of people believed Davis’ release was a wise decision as our nation in present times needs the US as its ally. They were of the opinion that this was bound to happen and had expected this from day one, and so, had no strong feelings on the matter.
As if the comments, tweets and messages were not enough, I got a long e-mail of snapshots of Davis, his profile and his crime. In short, the entire case history, with a message in the end to sign the email with my name to protest against his release, before forwarding it along to 20 people and if I ignored it, I would be “jinxed” for life.
In fact, after a while, Davis was practically forgotten – the debate now centred around ‘anti-government vs pro-government’, ‘justice vs partiality’, the ‘elite vs the poor’, ‘gora vs kala’!
In this inundation of comments, many had become politically incorrect, socially absurd and morally insane.
This is where social media has gone wrong. Factually incorrect messages and news are circulated without the sender having the slightest bit of knowledge on the matter. The event made me realise that social media has seriously gotten out of hand.