Youth, abuse and deepfake

We do not see nature, intelligence or ideology as it is; but only as our languages are

Muhammad Ali Falak May 16, 2022
The writer is a Fulbright PhD candidate at Texas A&M University and a graduate of the University of Tokyo

We do not see nature, intelligence or ideology as it is; but only as our languages are. The content, quality and abusive language of public discourse on popular social media need utter attention before it entirely mutilates the ‘lingua franca’ of the country.

Vitriol, anger and hatred in public discourse on social media are fast decaying our political, religious, informational and commercial forms of conversation — and its surrounding landscape. Any late-night talk show, family gathering, or social fiesta having a couple of political enthusiasts will present itself engaged in irrelevant, impotent and incoherent conversations, shrouded in heated arguments, roars and claims of self-righteousness. Venom is widespread!

Many analysing the influx of social media campaigns focusing on youth are of the view that on such platforms the truth is drowned in the sea of irrelevance and the youth is the fodder to fuel the political agenda of various political parties, making abuse a trivial culture.

On social media, everything seems everyone’s business. The abundant flow of information the youth have access to has very little or nothing to do with their future nor is going to help them shape their careers in any substantial ways.

Discussions, comments, tweets and memes present a population too amused by distractions – entertainment, leisure and laughter to effectively contribute to shaping the turbulent future of the country. Political conversations today adore the technologies that undo our capacities to think or entice us into a world of illusions and delusions. From covering events, the journalists, especially on social media, have moved on to covering statements while the rest of the world has been grappling with multimedia platforms, different ways of telling stories and figuring out the balance between news and analysis.

Out of an abundance of daily news on social media, it is as difficult to find matters related to policy, development, education and business as finding a needle in a haystack. The discussions on social media are based merely on leaked conversations, WhatsApp messages, marriages, divorces, affairs, doctored audio and tempered videos of public officeholders.

With every obscenity and profane video leak emerging into the social media; apparently, society lowers its moral values and starts waiting for the next one to accommodate their political masters as they are! This sometimes gives the perplexed thinkers a feeling of an auction notice stating ‘available as is’!

With the advent of ‘deepfake’ the society has another source of dopamine and misinformation. While the politics will go further south, the moral standards will freeze in the North (pole)! It’s synthetic media in which a person in an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. While the act of faking content is not new, deepfakes leverage powerful techniques from machine learning and artificial intelligence to manipulate or generate visual and audio content with a high potential to deceive. Hence carries a higher potential for political mud-slinging and false accusation, controlling the impressionable minds of the youth by inflicting them with unethical pleasure and astonishing those who are gullible enough not to differentiate if it’s real or fake, further polarising the society.

It’s time the political discourse should shift from personal attributes and traits of political leaders to their projects, political acumen and ability to initiate to provide basic necessities to the public, identification of the root cause of the problems and application of solutions.

The political discourse led by desires, imagination and speculations hampers our abilities to effectively comprehend, analyse and respond to the gravity of the political situations.

In the present day, effective censoring does not involve a media blackout rather it is done by bombarding the public with an influx of irrelevant information enabling the politicians to shy away from real issues. Politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business.

Intolerant, uncultured political discourse will further bruise the already limping moral standards and tolerance in society. Depression, anxiety and mental health issues will aggravate. The youth must agree to disagree and let their profiles be impeccable enough to lead them into the world of opportunity.


Published in The Express Tribune, May 16th, 2022.

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