Dr Pravin Togadia
Well, for those who do not like strong words used by other people, one may say ‘virtual encroachment’. Just like many others, for the past 2 years, I have had some interesting and some appalling experiences on the social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. No, I am not wasting your time here telling my individual experiences as we all do not believe in individualism. The crux of those experiences has been that the objective of connecting with known and unknown people committed and not so committed to the ideology. In this process, like many others we like-minded ‘friends’ too noticed an uncanny faceless and systematic virtual invasion.
Not referring to hacking of FB page or Twitter Handle etc as these are common things we all have gone through. With extra ‘caring’ (?) eye of various intelligence agencies of the centre and many states – governmental and private agencies – some of us have been able to find out who the hackers were and with the same agencies, we get immediate ‘like’ or ‘RT’ if we post anything on the FB or Twitter even in the wee hours at 3.45 am! This is a very basic virtual invasion.
The more obvious and shameless virtual invasion starts when in a row you start getting ‘likes’ or ‘RTs’ from the same area – geographical or otherwise. For those who do public rallies or small group meetings like me or many others, some such similar area people coming on your FB or Twitter is obvious. But see this: After Uttarakhand natural calamity, RSS, VHP, Hindu Help Line and all of us put up the relief camps and other help systems. To inform the relatives of the Yaatris and also for those who needed help or who wanted to help, apart from the routine presser, we posted the information of the camps on our FB and Twitter. Most of the response was so overwhelmingly kind and warm that the volunteers working in those camps and in rescue operations got cheered up. But yet there were some usual faceless faces who ignoring the pain and agony of the calamity affected, posted photos of decomposed dead bodies in Kedarnath area! In the enthusiasm of pouncing on the ruling Government, they forgot that that they were exhibiting the dead bodies of Hindus – kids, women and old people! They forgot or did not care that it may hurt the already hurt hearts of the relatives.
More loud and obnoxious was this: Our post was about to help the Uttarakhand calamity affected and in a row 6 faceless faces on FB posted a one liner promoting some individuals. Then their opponents – yet other faceless faces – used abusive words for them and both groups systematically in a planned manner tried to divert the topic from the relief camps to the typical political angle. After asking for their own photos on their FB accounts and their details and warning them that the issue was emergency help in Uttarakhand and not political PR, they vanished. Many of us have observed this on many posts, Tweets. Irrelevant and loaded one liners or questions! They do not even realise that by doing so, they not only look cheap but also hurt the larger cause.
There is another virtual invasion which is not so naïve or innocent. There are mass emails. These emails specifically target RSS, VHP, Bajrang Dal, BJP etc as organisations while glorifying few individuals and demeaning many others. Obviously they may be originating from other parties; but they have some typical names and thoughts. Without bothering about the truth and facts, such emails encroach upon your space in the emails. Sometimes, investigations in the origin of such emails throw light on strange clues! Interestingly, most in RSS have been used to such systematic defamation of the great work of all of us and we are all trained not to ignore them but also to laugh at them. However, they do form a part of virtual invasion.
It was once said that the poem is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. So true! In the social networking media, the powerful feelings when genuine, take a form of impactful movement as it happened in the case of Delhi gang rape. But when powerful feelings of youth who may not have inkling or knowledge of even the recent history, are manipulated into euphoria. Expression of words is a powerful tool if it is supported either by the facts or by heart-felt compassion. Otherwise hollow allegations turn into a dirty game of power and money giving it a tone of a paid PR.
Not only political parties, but big corporates use this virtual invasion very smartly. A corn flex maker American company has recently put up a so-called survey on the internet (and I have noticed that they have not got some leading newspapers too print that survey) that a leading western university says – skipping breakfast is the cause for 25% heart attacks! Well, Ayurveda says otherwise or in a different ways. But the American company is so hell bent upon selling their corn flex as the only option for breakfast that they manipulate even the medical science! Interestingly, now the same survey is being forcibly planted on many FB pages on any posts! The post was of Bhagwan Vishnuji on Dev Shayani Ekadashi and a faceless face posted this survey as a comment under the post! Advertising at the cost of being a laughing stock! Curiously, I sifted through the newspaper same day and I found front page colour. Ad of the same Corn Flex company! Place an Ad and ‘buy’ the article / news in return and then thrust that news or article on anyone! Smart marketing but Bharat is not stupid!
The powerful medium of social networking it used in a positive way, brings about a great revolution – in thoughts and the way people conduct themselves. On Twitter, the other day, I found someone giving useful info about how to maintain hygiene during monsoon! Great. Bharat may look divided in castes, languages, regions but Bharat, when it comes to protecting own cultural identity, stand as one. History has proven it all the time. Therefore, rather than invading other people’s social networking sites or using other organisations’ credible names in an unauthorised way, it would help all to give out positive messages respecting others’ privacy on the social networking. Youth is known to fiercely protect own privacy and right to expression. Youth therefore, with some factual homework, can build national agenda in Bharat. Virtual Invasion is not the way for it. The sustained path is of true compassion and dedication to ideology/ when you have a positive message, even the modern age media glows with the bright future without having to use virtual invasions.
(The writer is international president of VHP and can be contacted at [email protected])