Netizens are becoming violent, irrational and humdrum. If one deliberates on the insinuations and predispositions for people in the online world, it can be said that the herd effect on all social media platforms has severely affected the lives of people who are at the receiving end.
Dr. Piyashi Dutta – Assistant Professor , Amity School of Communication, Amity University, Noida.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap] microscopic look at our surroundings, paints a very grim picture. People across age, gender, caste, community and occupation are preoccupied, with some or the other kind of gadget. The list of gadgets is endless and the entertainment that is provided via various Apps, is unimaginable. At the periphery one is compelled to think, so much development is taking place. Wherein, majority of the individuals have access to cellphones, iPad, tablets, 4G connection, and et.al.
But a quick pause reveals the forbidding reality that is at the center of our social lives. Endless number of research has shown that people are more comfortable in the virtual world. Real life connections are becoming lesser by the day. And thereby, one is bound to think that we as society, owing to the addiction of technology are losing the basic capacity to think logically.
At the risk of sounding like a preacher, one is but compelled to say that owing to excessive addiction of gadgets and the urge to maintain a particular type of social media image, many are losing the rationale mind. Blindly, following trending / viral stories, making certain stories viral devoid of value judgement is the norm of the day. Mob mentality or herd mentality is a dominant actor in this process. Researchers have go on to argue that, excessive use of social media can alter people’s view of the world and self, and not necessarily for the better. It may appear to be an astonishing concept that social media can disturb ones mental health. But keeping in view the amount of time people devote to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, this proposition certainly makes sense.
Given the circumstance that is unfurling one can recall Benjamin Franklin, when he had said, “If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.” Political theorist Hannah Arendt, who coined the term, “[The] banality of evil”, had argued that what occurred in Nazi Germany might principally be attributed on common people conforming to “mass opinion without a critical evaluation of the consequences of their actions.” In this light, one can say that owing to excessive dependency on social media we as a society have logged on to the Viral culture propagated by the herd mentality, which is devoid of emotions, logic and empathy.
The Case In Point
A case that needs attention for varied reasons is that of the Zomato delivery boy, who was sacked from his job after a video of him eating food from the packet meant for the customer, went viral, December 2018. As soon as the video was put on various social media platforms, netizens followed the normative pattern and shared the video along with numerous comments, till the video went viral. Not a single person paused to think of the after effects. Zomato has as a means to redeem consumer base put up an apology, and the concerned delivery boy was dismissed from his job.
Soon after Netizens, again as a herd realised that the punishment meted out to the concerned person was too harsh. A headlines on an online portal stated “Zomato sacks delivery boy after viral video. Internet is feeling bad now”.
A Question to Be Asked
Whether the quantum of punishment is justified is an obvious question. However, the larger question that needs to be asked is was the content of the video of such amusement that it needed to be viral. Did any sane minded netizen wonder why a person may be compelled to steal food? What is the minimum wage of the delivery boy and do they get time to eat in between duty hours? Is the salary enough for them to make ends meet? Do they get any kind of food allowance along with their salary? What is life risk of the delivery boys who ride two wheelers on high speed to meet the delivery deadline?
No questions asked and no rationale thoughts in place but because it is “cool” to share videos and posts mindlessly on social media, netizens became a part of the viral culture. Yes, a possible angle cannot be disregarded that the delivery boys may be regular defaulter, stealing food meant for the customers. In such a case the service provider is to devise a mechanism to stop such an act. But to blame it on one person mindlessly is uncalled for.
Herein, it becomes imperative to think where the herd mentality is leading us. Increasingly, netizens are becoming violent, irrational and humdrum. If one deliberates on the insinuations of such predispositions for people in the online world, it can be said that the herd effect on all social media platforms has severely affected lives of people who are at the receiving end. Twitter for instance is an ultimate sample of debasing people. Increasingly it is being conjectured that online trolling and harassment ensues, since there is facelessness and a lack of penalties for the perpetrator. Also, netizens primarily those addicted to social media lack the basic humanity to understand the repercussions of their herd activity, which for them is a source of entertainment.
After having said so much, one is again forced to contemplate if any netizen ever will pause, take a break from the virtual world and see the reality!