It’s the first Monday of 2016 and most of us have been able to drag ourselves to offices after a long weekend of lazying around, binge eating, and general merriment. As we enter the new year with some old and new resolutions, and lessons from the past, let’s look at the one inspiring change that happened during the past year. The year 2015 was a year of hope and inspiration. It was the year of the common man. No, we arent talking about the Aam Aadmi Party.
We are talking about the ordinary citizens who became heroes when the situation demanded. We are talking about those who rose above odds, those who went out of their way to help others, those who put self-interest beyond others.
These stories have existed for long, there have been heroes among ordinary citizens for ever, but their stories have come out with such full force only in the recent times. And social media has an important role to play in this.
Be it the 67-year-old retired railway employee in Hyderabad who repairs potholes with his pension money
or the daughter of a sanitation worker who completed a master’s degree in microbiology at the age of 13, and graduated from the same college where her father worked as a sweeper,
© Daily Mail
Or the girl who became a badminton champion after she lost her leg in a road accident in Mumbai,
stories of uncommon courage and determinaion were abound.
These are amazing stories but they are never news, because they didn’t happen in a singe day, which is why such stories have always found little space on the front pages of a newspaper or theprime time of a news channel where breaking news is the be-all. And this where internet and the social media stepped in and helped spread their stories.
The struggle and journey of a hero can never be contained in a few words anyway. One of the most impactful mediums of depicting a story is, of course, the silver screen. The heart-rendering tale of Maanjhi, the mountain man, or that of Milkha Singh couldn’t have been better explained anywhere else other than a movie.
And It Brought Help And Justice Too
Instant help and justice was a thing of rarity in pre-internet India. It still is, mostly. But then there are rare instances that restore your faith in humanity and in the power of social media. Take for example the case of 65-year-old Krishna whose typewriter was cruelly broken by a merciless cop in UP.
A photographer Ashutosh Tripathi from ‘Dainik Bhaskar’ happened to click the pictures of the cop kicking the old man’s typewriter, and uploaded what he saw on his Facebook page. As the post went viral on social media, help poured in from across the country and the cop was promptly suspended. We wonder what would have been the scene if the story hadn’t gone viral.
Social Media, A Double-Edged Sword That Has The Power To Create As Well As Destroy
It’s a double-edged sword – while it brought out inspiring tales of people, it also fell prey to rumours and falseities. One of the most talked-about examples of this was the Jasleen Kaur case in which a simple Facebook post created much furore and ruined the reputation of an innocent man.
As the false story spread and social media (including us) picked it up like a bloodthirsty hound, the world pounced on the man’s reputation and shredded it to pieces. Only to realize he was framed. Internet shaming has become a dangerous trend and there’s an aggressive mob mentality to it. Passing judgment is best left to the judiciary.
© newint (dot) org
Now there’s no way of knowing the truth except what we hear from others, but what is in our control is our reaction to it. Not jumping to conclusions is perhaps the one of the qualities of a rational mind. This is the onus on every media company out there, as well as every reader. As most of us have access to the internet right now, we all have a part to play. Most of us function as cogs in the wheel of internet journalism. With each post about a real story we share on our personal social media profiles, we are contributing to creating a story – small or big. As such we also hold a responsibilty towards the truth.
To sum it up, social media/internet journalism is a double-edged sword. While it certainly helps to spread a story far and faster, it does more harm than good if the story is untrue. But that doesn’t mean we go back two steps and let the underdogs, the unsung heroes remain in anonymity. It just means that social media has to achieve a more balanced and responsible stance, and agression should never be a part of it.
To many more stories of hope and inspiration! Happy new year!