Hashtag Wars

Freedom of speech is very important for a dynamic society but silence is also very important for peace and progression. The noise of social media is too loud to be understood by human being. We all are speaking but no one is listening. We are only forwarding posts on whatsapp to tease others. What all we write, speak and express on social media is getting us no where.
Language of controversy is more persuasive than language of conformity.This phenomenon is more productive in politics and media both. But it is counter productive for social order, our mental health and business. No state can survive and no trade can flourish without political stability. A stable, happier society is product of political stability.
Though the practice of generating controversies is in vogue since long but advances in digital technology has made it faster and effective and results of controversies are seen immediately. Nothing pleases political gathering more than foul language by their leaders against opponents. Aggressive tone by the leader strengthen the tenacity of charged crowd. Donald Trump’s America from 2016-2020 has witnessed the charm of controversies and foul language. Pakistan tasted this phenomenon first time in 2017, when Supreme Court gave verdict against the Prime Minister to cease his government on charge of corruption. The post supreme court decision period and later developments till leadership of N-League came out openly against military establishment in their rallies and small gatherings has polarized the society immensely. Recently when PTI government was constitutionally changed through a political process, Imran Khan came out on roads and managed to get public support by harnessing the social media platforms.
It is a new kind of war which can be termed a globe-spanning information conflict, fought by hundreds of millions of people across dozens of social media platforms. Since last one decade, internet and digital platforms and advances in technology has “disrupted” the world of news, entertainment, business, war and politics. It is a revolution that no nation, leader, group or army can afford to ignore. If it favours you today, it will harm you tomorrow.
It is not only political battles, but insurgencies, conflicts, human rights, marketing and branding being managed through digital platforms. In Iraq, ISIS with 1500 fighters only at its hand managed to take over Mousal only because of swift and aggressive use of social media. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, terrorists outfits used social media to proliferate terrorism.
Algorithms is new language. Data mining, analytics set the tone of business and markets. Digital World has empowered citizens beyond imagination. Work from home is a new norm. Earning through free lancing has enhanced the making opportunities for youth. New ways of using digital technology are being introduced every day. Online shopping, food delivery, ticketing, booking has eased human in multifarious ways. Millions of rupees transactions are being made through a single click at your mobile phones.
This is positive use of the digital world. Here in Pakistan we are more engaged in fighting with political opponents through hashtag(#). We have become a hashtag society, a virtual society which has no real life purpose. Consistent threat, controversies and political fights attract us more than other pressing life issues. Political scoring and statements are most viewed and discussed issues on our popular tv shows, whatsapp chats, twitter and facebook posts. When there is no political issue, we create our own. Solving self created puzzles, discussing conspiracy theories are most popular habits amongst whole nation. People remain busy and happy in meaningless arguments. Twitter and Television in Pakistan are becoming good interlocutor to generate such discussions and create a mess of its own. There are countless #s which are being played by hashtag teams. Every five minutes a new # appear and vanish from twitter panel. It has almost become a measure of political hegemony.
I undertook a small experiment. I, along with four other persons decided to change the pattern of our cellphone use and remain away from certain applications, when we log on to cellphone.. According to weekly cellphone use report, our average time was 8-10 hours. We reduced our timings by 6 hours daily. We also quitted from our half of whatsapp groups, reduced twitter use by 50% and abstained from facebook. Shocking results were obtained. I can not reproduce full results here but brief conclusion; we engaged in arguments less since we did not have the exposure to controversial content, the application which are interactive like whatsapp, twitter, fabebook increase anxiety. If you do not use or use less these apps, you will suffer less anxiety disorder. Youtube is better app for entertainment and self growth. We had lot of time for families other activities and more importantly we did not miss anything by remaining away from cellphone
Making hashtag is an old culture on twitter but presently it is being used extensively for political motives. Most discussed and meaningless hashtag #merepasstumho has been on for days. Whole nation was in frenzy and fully absorbed in concluding episode of drama Mere Pass Tum ho. Guess what, just to see that hero of drama (Danish) takes which option , whether stick around with his wife or go for his girl friend. Hero was smarter than whole lot of viewers, he opted for mercy from both the ladies and decided to commit suicide. This tragic end made of millions of viewers so sad that #Danishmargaya remained top trend for next two days.
Besides political #s, celebrities, takes a lead in making hashtag. Infact making # has become a popular game in the country. It earns you more followers and brings you in limelight in social media world. People makes a # even when a delivery boy is late for few minutes to deliver the order or cab driver moves a few yards ahead of given location. Since last one month #ImportedHakoomatNamangoor is occupying twitter.
Media creates its own virtual world but a calculated one to influence the masses to be part of it. Any intervention in that persuasion process creates unrest between state and media. Media call this intervention ‘ attack on freedom of expression’ and state call it ‘national interest’. Both are right . Fight between media and state has been a standard pattern since ages but Postmodernism movements like Feminism has widened the gulf between society and state.
The emerging virtual culture is nothing but a habit for social media users. It does have negative outcomes but it helps political parties to enhance their vote bank. Political parties must understand that making # for personalities and institutions only add to polarity and weaken the state. Negative use of social media is spoiling the society instead of paving way for a productive outcome.

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