• Tuesday, Jan 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 05:02 pm

OP-ED: Are we really social?

  • Published at 08:29 pm August 23rd, 2020
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Cyberbullying is not a brand new phenomenon

Cyberbullying is not a brand new phenomenon in Bangladesh, but it has become a matter of grave concern in recent times. It is not only an act to be scorned upon but also punishable under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act 2006.

Let’s look at the negative comments section where some perverted Facebook users have made derogatory comments under the picture of Shakib Al Hasan’s baby daughter. Later, Shakib and his wife Shishir removed the photo from their Facebook page following the objectionable comments.

What is her crime? She is just a four-year-old baby girl. This, in short, is a picture of an unhealthy, sick, and dysfunctional society. According to Dhaka Tribune, at least 32% of children between the ages of 10 and 17 in Bangladesh, are vulnerable to online violence, cyberbullying, and digital harassment.

However, it is not new for national team cricketers or celebrities to receive negative comments on social media. Taskin Ahmed, another cricketer, received many negative comments, the main topic of which was the question of the duration of their marriage and childbirth.

Can you imagine how uncivilized we are? The situation is such that even someone who shares pictures with his sister is afraid of cyberbullying.

Using social media to harass people, spread rumours, slander others, and incite conflict is a ubiquitous practice. Individuals, organizations, celebrities, and institutions have not been spared. For instance, Ayman Sadiq, the founder of Ten Minute School, has been threatened with death over his social media content.

There can be many kinds of criticism of Ayman as an individual or about his content. 

But, if someone raises questions about his religion, whether he is a Muslim, or threatens him, that is unacceptable.

The tendency to go viral using obscene sentences or cut pieces from different movies is also noticeable. This tendency to become viral has given rise to unhealthy competition among young people. As a result, the proliferation of teen-gangs is on the rise in recent times.

The latest example of this  is the so-called TikTok star Apu Bhai. According to Dhaka Tribune, around 8,000 to 10,000 youth and teenage people are believed to have been active members of the youth-gangs in the capital.

Additionally, online platforms are used nowadays for spreading false information and rumours. The spread of misinformation can trigger mass panic and adversely impact the stability of society.

Many examples of misinformation on Covid-19 have had impacts on our community. For instance, drinking the juice of thankuni leaves and frequently drinking tea or hot water with ginger or garlic can cure coronavirus. Interestingly, many people started to believe such rumours.

Another example is the Padma Bridge incident. A group of people spread rumours on social media that human heads would be required to construct Padma Bridge. Back then, Bangladesh had witnessed a disturbing spate of mob lynching incidents.

Who can forget the name of Taslima Begum Renu? The woman, a single mother, actually went to the Uttar Badda Government Primary School to ask about the admission process, but the mob killed her when some locals assumed her to be a child abductor. 

Now the question arises: What is the reason for the tendency to despise through social media? The simple answer is that most of the users do not know the etiquette of using social media. In Bangladesh, it depends on the people’s quality of media literacy, the cultural tastes of those who are using the internet, the rate of education, awareness, etc. 

Before the advent of social media, we mingled with a limited world. We were not aware of people’s inner thoughts. The conscious and unconscious brain of man has not been known for so long. But social media has exposed the image of our society.

The orthodoxy and sickness of society are greatly concerning. We have failed to diagnose mental illness in society.

In essence, we need a concerted effort to tackle and prevent violence against children and young people online. The law alone does not solve all problems. Despite strict laws, eve-teasing, acid throwing, the dowry system, and child marriage could not be eradicated. 

But success comes whenever social awareness and education are given importance. This sick society needs immediate treatment. We need to spread knowledge, not hatred. Just think, Shakib’s daughter will grow up one day. 

How will she see this society, the people, and the country when she looks back at these past memories?

Md Jahid Hashan is a post-graduate student of political science.

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