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Aysha Taryam: The secular state of social networks
April 01, 2012
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Never before has the world been as interconnected as it is today. Entire populations all tangled up in an invisible web, one that holds them captive indefinitely. Each virtual string binds one stranger to the other making friends of some and foes of the rest. The virtual world where people feel safe under the false security of illuminated screens has provided the lonely being with a mirage, one that promises at the end of it the fulfilling sense of closeness and the death of loneliness. 

Virtual connections have stripped bare the essence of love songs, for no longer does one have to climb the highest mountain or brave the desert sands to be with the ones they love. A click of a button and a swipe of a screen will just about do it today. While the feelings of love have been subdued by the world of the virtual being, those of hatred have been amplified.

Those inhabiting social network sites have followed other inhabitants or created a following of their own, unconsciously forming virtual communities that speak the same language as they do. All of a sudden a lonely person’s thoughts are being reinforced by many other voices, suddenly a once ludicrous idea seems logical. Communities, even virtual ones, mean borders, boundaries, gates and armies. When thoughts are challenged, when lines are crossed, threats are issued and armies are deployed — such is the world we live in and such is the world we created online.

As much as people longed to believe that this world, created not of brick and mortar but of ones and zeros, will be the place where all voices shall be equal the reality is, a world is just a reflection of its inhabitants. The social network community is a place where codes of conduct do not exist, where people live without a governing law. A world that is an experiment in freedom, but freedom in the wild can get ugly.

The world of social networks lured the voiceless in with the gift of speech. It promised that voices, no matter how soft-spoken, would be heard. This granted wish soon revealed that not all voices have something to say and instead of a world of voices set free we experienced a world filled mostly with noise.

Angry voices grew louder filling the vastness of the virtual world, criticism turned to spite and a cold war between communities began. Those with spite lead a slew of their followers towards unsuspecting targets bombarding them with an onslaught of hate-filled words and accusations. Complete strangers enter into a war of words over the most trivial of subjects, imagine getting into a street fight but instead of a few spectators, there are millions. In this lawless but free world hate crimes are committed every day, it seems out of all the freedoms we prefer the freedom to hurt the most.

The virtual world was meant to be the great escape from the segregation that the real world imposed yet no sooner have they settled in than people managed to make a secular world out of the virtual. Freedom is required in a civilised world but so are the sense of social responsibility, fear of reprimand and respect for your fellow man, all of which the inhabitants of Twitter and Facebook seem to have left behind during their migration from the world of the tangible.

This world promised a place for everybody but it is not a place for everyone. Many loathed the falseness of it all and opted out, chose not to dwell in a place where many hide behind false avatars and speak in tongues that are not theirs. Where groups and sects are more prominent than any other place in the world.

After years of trying to make it a better place they understood that its ugliness was far more powerful than its beauty and committed social network suicide, deactivating their accounts and saying goodbye to it all. This is one choice the virtual world offers that the real world might not, to walk away when it all just gets too much.

To deactivate, disconnect, be free.
 
 
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