In the wake of the savage lynching of two youths in Assam’s Karbi Anglong district recently, the social media – Facebook in particular – has come in for castigation left and right. There is justification when people say platforms like Facebook have been misused, leading to rumours spreading far more rapidly than wild fire does, and thus causing misinformation. True, such social media platforms are not meant for things that are not social in any way, but are downright antisocial in every way, and must therefore be subject to a monitoring system to the extent as is permissible in a democracy whose hallmarks are free society and free thinking. Nevertheless, democracy cannot itself be allowed to be hijacked by the freedom it seeks to espouse. It is here that curtailment of the freedom to cause violence on a free society becomes imperative, and there cannot be anything undemocratic about such restrictions. Yet one wonders: What about the mainstream media? In the instant case, what about the Guwahati-based TV channels that went overzealous in beaming the screams of the two youths over and over again – as if viewers had developed some sort of morbid voyeurism and so they must be fed those visuals repeatedly? Here comes the role of restraint. Of sense and sensibility. Of responsibility as a paramount pillar of democracy. And of the ability to rise above the craze for mere TRP ratings and to use discretion for public good and order when times seem slipping away to those of anarchy. The mainstream media has a far greater role in ensuring at such times that the madness of a mob cannot be replicated as a method of madness across the social spectrum by isolating and targeting a whole people when only a handful of them had chosen the path of madness.
Mainstream Media Too