ALI SUKHANVER --
Sometime nonsense behaviour of the masses simply adds a lot to the miseries already making the lives of people troublesome. Same thing was observed a few weeks back when the Corona Virus pandemic wrapped up the whole world in its cruel clutches. So many misconceptions regarding the symptoms and treatment of the disease and details of the number of patients who died or survived just spread harassment and disappointment among the public. Different ‘stupids’ tried to give the situation a colour of sectarian and political conflict also. At such a painfully sensitive juncture of our history, the social media could have played a very helpful role in minimizing the fear and lessening disappointment in the society but unfortunately it did not. It is a daylight fact that in a very short span of time, the social media has become so powerful, particularly in the Third World Countries like Pakistan that it has pushed back into oblivion all other media gadgets including the electronic and print media. For becoming a social media activist one needs nothing but a good-quality cell phone having a high-resolution video camera. The social media activists do nothing but start uploading and sharing their ‘hand-made’ video clips based on baseless chunks of information rather disinformation on social media platforms. The ever worst example of this irresponsible attitude was spreading of three photographs on social media which actually had nothing to do with the Covid-19 pandemic. This nonsense activity remained more in practice in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh like countries.
One of those misguiding photographs was of a playground full of dead bodies. Below the picture, it was captioned that in Spain the number of people dying of Corona Virus has increased so much that there is no arrangement for the burial of their dead bodies; helplessly the Italian government is heaping up the dead bodies in open playgrounds. In reality the picture had no connection with the Corona disaster. It was taken somewhere in 2014 in some European country where an art-project was under process. The organizers of that art-project gathered a few hundred people in an open ground and asked them to pose as if they were the dead bodies scattered in open grounds and streets. More disappointing and depressing was a photograph of currency notes littered in the streets and on the roads of Italy. It was claimed that after the Corona disaster, the Italians in a state of depression, have thrown away all their money on the streets saying that these currency notes are useless to them now. But reality is altogether different. The picture was taken in March 2019 in Venezuela where Venezuela’s old currency, the Bolívar Fuerte was replaced by a new form of currency the Bolivar Soberano. The Venezuelans threw their old notes on the streets as they became worthless for them. The Snopes, a fact-checking website says, “The misleading post has been circulating like wildfire on social media. With the help of reverse search, we found that these pictures are available on the Internet since March 2019, several months before the corona virus outbreak.”
In another heart-breaking picture, more than 100 coffins were shown placed under a roof in a large hall. It was said with reference to that picture that the coffins contained dead bodies of those who died of Corona in Italy, just in one day. Actually, the coffins contained the dead bodies of those unlucky ones who lost their lives in a boat accident on 3rd October 2013. The unlucky boat started its journey from Misrata, Libya and sank off the Italian island of Lampedusa. Exploitation of all these photographs by misinterpreting their real reference and the actual context no doubt spread despair, disappointment, horror and harassment in our already troubled society. Those who are involved in such obnoxious activities must be taken to task. If such people are given an unchecked liberty of doing what they like, the situation would become unimaginably terrible.
Hard times do come as life is not always a plain and smooth sailing. The only thing we need to face the hardships of life is nothing but courage and determination. Fear deprives us of our wisdom, courage and determination. Mr. Modi’s recent decision of imposing a curfew-like lock down in the country, without a prior intimation and without precautionary measures, is the worst example of decisions taken in a state of fear. We are lucky enough that in spite of a serious lack of resources, we never let fear overcome our wisdom, courage and determination. The point to be kept in mind is that fear is the worst enemy of man be it the fear of death, fear of disease, fear of loss and defeat, fear of deprivation and fear of distances. It is a negative emotion and arises with the threat of physical as well as of emotional harm. Gone are the days when wars were fought in battle-fields with the help of weapons and ammunition; thousands of soldiers had to sacrifice their precious lives leaving behind them countless mourners. Now minds and hearts are the battle-fields, social media tools are the ammunition and the desired ‘End-State’ is generation of fear.