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140 characters of deceit, debauchery, demagoguery, destruction and death.

Technology is a great leveller. It makes possible things which before their realisation are mere dreams. Technology empowers, it lends both voice as well as choice. Technology helps us in our intellectual, moral and physical progress. It hinders the hinderances in our way to development. Technology in essence, is a catalyst to prosperity.

Twitter is a manifestation of the same technological boon. It has radically democratised information creation as well as dissemination. It has enhanced political equality and redefined political communication in a way never comprehended before.

Today, it is possible to connect one to one with our leaders in real time thanks to applications like Twitter. A plethora of visa, passport and immigration related requests and queries to ex External Affairs minister late Smt. Sushma Swaraj is a shining example of Twitter coming in handy for handling public grievances as well as governance.

But alas, not everything is that rosy. Whatever may be the intended motives for the creation of Twitter, today it is subverted and perverted in all possible manners to an extent that it betrays its intended purposes (assuming they were genuinely well intentioned).

Twitter today is the biggest cacophony of vituperative narratives which divides and polarises attitudes, views, opinions and outlooks. Twitter, put simply, is a battlefield where life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. It represents war of all against all. Everyone on Twitter is a warrior fighting battles which may seem innocuous at first but tend to pull us down a vortex of hatred from where escaping is next to impossible.

Yudhishthira- the embodiment of Dharma, used deceit to kill Drona in the epic battle of Mahabharata. A white truth of death of Ashwatthama was spread across to lower the morale of Drona (father of Ashwatthama), the only caveat being that the dead Ashwatthama was an elephant and not Drona’s son. On being enquired by Drona, Yudhisthira agreed with the claim while suppressing the information that the said Ashwatthama was an elephant. Twitter works on a similar tradition.

No one knows the complete truth. In fact there is no complete truth. Everyone is having a different version of truth. It is a war to establish truth. Fictions, fabrications and falsehoods are peddled in the name of truth to establish an absolute truth. Truth per se doesn’t depend on the merits of its veracity but on the basis of likes or retweets it can gather. Truly, reality is stranger than fiction.

In the age of online influencers such a polemic platform can be potent tool for demagoguery, spreading hatred, invoking baser passions and dividing people. Donald Trump was banned on Twitter for similar reasons, and rightly so. But, it would be a contemptuous assumption to think that Trump was an isolated case. We are all the mirror images of Trump. Knowingly or unknowingly we are all spreading hate. Those mocking one form of hatred with another are no better than the former. Left, Right or centre all are equally guilty of spreading rancour equally in all directions. Sachin Tendulkar can at once be a God or a political stooge, depending upon what position he takes on Twitter, notwithstanding his contribution to the nation. Similarly Rihanna or Greta. But why care, after all the judgements are being made by people who have little to show beneath the veil of anonymity they wear to shred the characters online.

The problem per se is not with the medium that is Twitter. It is with the people who are called upon to work on it. We have turned the intended purpose of Twitter upside-down. A platform for fruitful debates and discussions is metamorphosed into a platform where abuses, calumny, blasphemy and rancour reign supreme. What does it tell us about our race ? On a serious reflection it will be fair to say that we are all greedy, cunning, conniving, ungrateful, deceitful, violent, thankless, immoral and above all hypocrites.

Man is technologically advanced but morally and intellectually a primate. Here in lies the contradiction of our times. Perhaps, as a short term measure, a strict code of conduct based on moral values which can inform our conduct on social media is the need of the hour. In the long term we need value education and moral development. From deceit, debauchery, demagoguery, destruction and death to debate, discussion and decent dissent we need to travel millions of proverbial intellectual and moral miles. Else this too shall just be another blessing turning to a scourge, all thanks to the warped ingenuity of the so called wisest creature on the planet earth.



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