LET THE TRUTH PREVAIL

The title of the blog might sound cliched, even commonplace for what is so novel about pursuing the truth — is it not given — is it not supposed to be a part of our psyche — is not the pursuit of truth the most righteous and morally correct path to follow — is it not something which has been ingrained in us ever since we gained senses. Well yes, only if we, individually and collectively as a society, desire and decide to pursue the path ordained and designed for us and taught to us.

However, in a day and age of information overload, proliferation of the internet, a hyperactive, somewhat uncontrolled expansion of the social media, the desire/ability to pursue truth without verification of facts and assessing the ground situation has somewhat got buried. What was meant to be a source of information, economical communication and enabler of speedier social interaction has, sad to say, petered out to being a hotbed of misinformation, rumour mongering and an instrument of actualising motivated designs. A vast majority of the people would still want to use social media for the purpose for which it has been invented, but sadly, a numerically insignificant minority ( not referring to any particular religion, class or section of society but to the entire population having access to and using social media) are using it for nefarious designs and ulterior motives with potentially far-reaching, dangerous and even lethal consequences.

The power of social media being such, the speed at which (mis)information travels is mind boggling with far-reaching consequences. Vilification campaigns based on misplaced priorities, or even sheer mischief, alloyed with a potent amalgam of ignorance and social media marketing have made those tools, which are readily available for use by anybody and everybody, a source of potential riots, misplaced grief, premature celebration and what have you. The recent episode of the message doing the rounds on social media of the Great Roger Federer having announced his retirement sent his numerous fans and the entire tennis loving fraternity, across the world, into a tizzy only to be discovered later as not being true with not even a hint to that effect by the great Roger Federer himself. Similarly, quotes or actions attributable to certain persons in authority or people who have the potential to influence public opinion, invariably unverified, find their way on social media and, through a lethal amalgam of “forwards”, “shares” and “likes” thereby influencing impressionable minds — while corrective action may take its own time in coming, in the, even brief interregnum, the possibility of something drastic happening in its wake is alarming.

The said fact has come into even more prominence in recent times since the outbreak of Covid-19, where the Whatsapp “University” as somebody, rather amusingly, dubbed the most prevalent tool of social media, has been on an overdrive with messages ranging from a possible Chinese conspiracy behind the global threat, to the number of people afflicted/dying, to possible cures for the disease (not backed by any scientific evidence), to the pitiable state of certain sections of the society, to what to eat and not to eat and even what not to wear to keep the disease away, to attempting to give it a communal tinge have flooded the social media. With the comparatively free time that some human-beings have at their disposal, more and more concentration , is being focussed on social media, and I haste to say that, rather unproductively ,wherein the pursuit of truth has unwittingly become, a major casualty.

Undoubtedly, globally, we are confronted with a crisis of epic proportions to deal with which, unfortunately, we have no prior experience and absolutely no standard operating procedures to fall back upon. In this scenario, it becomes everyone’s duty without exception, to abide by certain basic norms of behaviour and support, constructively, the decisions and measures that their respective political and executive dispensations have made and put into place thereby doing their best, to control the epidemic nee pandemic. In these trying and testing times, the need is to use social media as means to check on the welfare of near and dear ones and not to partake of gossip-mongering/sermonising by either “originating” or “forwarding” unverified, unauthenticated messages, even from known sources.

The outbreak of the COVID -19 virus has also unleashed in its wake a contemporary manifestation of the “social-media virus”. It does not require much effort to recollect recent instances of rampant misuse to spread, misinformation and influence public opinion by misguided sections of the society with again, possibly, lethal consequences also abetted by an overzealous, enthusiastic media. In all this, the pursuit of truth and informed decision making is a primary casualty.

With the debate of privacy issue nowhere close to reaching a logical conclusion and the political dispensation and thinkers across the world stage grappling with the issue of putting in place effective means to regulate social media and with newer and more effective means being invented regularly and the, may I say, frightening prospect of Artificial Intelligence threatening to rule human lives to an unimaginable degree, self-restraint and verification of facts becomes largely an individual exercise and thought process. In the process regulating use of social media is necessary so that the pursuit of truth does not become a casualty.

As someone really wise and learned said “Pursue truth with the integrity of a saint and the tenacity of a bull dog”. Let us make an effort to combine saintly attitudes and a bull dog mentality to rediscover, regenerate and harness the sublime power of social media for productive uses.

In all this, I am not deliberating upon the other deleterious effects of unrestricted use of social media such as limiting physical exercise ,reduced actual social interaction and family time and, of course, possible adverse medical consequences on which tomes have already been written. The point to be emphasized is that , in the current scenario, there is a paramount need for reliance on truth and truth alone to mitigate the devastating effects that this crisis has the potential to bring upon us.

Don’t trust and only verify, unravel the truth only then can the mental stress and physical agony of this scourge be assuaged

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