Bengaluru: Social media is the new battleground where parallel elections are fought, opinions are formed and people are pitted against one another. Come election time, social media accounts of majority of users are filled with political posts that go to the extremes. Politicians and their acolytes tom-tom the “achievements” of their parties and leaders, launch virulent attacks on opponents and instigate as many neutral viewers as possible.
“Politics is trending and one cannot blame just politicians for expressing their anger or aggression. As there is no restriction in social media on the comments made and with large numbers of followers re-posting opinions, the reach is wide with very minimal costs involved. But one should be aware of the outcomes,” said Dr Naveen Jayaram, consultant psychiatrist, Sakra World Hospital.
“It is basic human psychology. People get aggressive when they feel insecure or threatened and a lot of factors influence that, like the personality and also the environment. But parties should be responsible when posting hate messages,” cautioned Dr Satish Ramaiah, Chief, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist, People Tree Mind Care. “Those who follow and like such posts also have a role to play and they need to act maturely. They should not get instigated by emotionally charged posts or pictures,” he said.
Srinivas Alavilli, a civic activist with the Citizens for Bangalore, has been advocating responsible social media behaviour by political parties and common users. “I believe that a majority of social media users are not affiliated to any party. While there are many party members and supporters, the number of ‘neutral’ people far outweighs party sympathisers of any particular party. Why should we let parties and their draconian IT cells dictate what happens on social media? Shouldn’t we take back the social media from these people who have made it their business to spread hatred and manipulate debates and turn conversations into controversies? I think we can, if a lot of us decide to self regulate on social media. Perhaps Bengaluru, the tech capital of the country, can show the way in the last one month of this election on how ordinary people can use social media in a way it was intended to be."