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The Iron cage of Social Media: War of all against all?


Farah Adeed |

The 21st century came up with some interesting developments and slogans like political democracy, protection of human rights, tolerance, political inclusiveness, women empowerment and a strong urge for the rule of law. This is something that Political Science books are written in the 1990s and early years of the 21st century offered to us. Neo-liberalism dominated International Relations and international institutions were seen as the most important guardians of global peace, economic prosperity, and political stability.

The alleged enemy of humanity, the Soviet Union, was no longer at the world stage and liberalism was to make its way across the world. Francis Fukuyama, one of the most celebrated American scholars, wrote his The End of History and the Last Man to theorize western political aspirations and provided a new framework for future research and academic inquiry.

You never know who is disturbing your mental peace like if someone bullies you with a fake ID can be your friend whom you met just an hour ago. Yes, this is “the war of all against all”.

But a new history was born and where old men came up with their old political aspirations and economic designs. Resultantly, we witnessed initiation of a never-ending war after the end of cold war, largescale abuse of human rights, liberalization of so-called liberal democracies and dominance of selective western morality. It was the time when we welcomed Facebook and Twitter.

New modes of interaction, war, manipulation and exaggeration led to the re-birth of Thomas Hobbes and a new, digital state of nature got developed where we saw “the war of all against all”. Social media once considered to be the best defender of democracy and human rights has become a new method of surveillance and a battlefield where the most violent war is fought without swords and enemies are not killed instantly.

Read more: Social media: Pakistan’s new challenge?

Modern war does not kill anyone with a bullet rather it is increased insecurity, exploitation, depression, anxiety, and obsession with modernity itself which gradually kills the enemy. This is an age where the enemy is present but cannot be seen with your naked eyes. You never know who is disturbing your mental peace like if someone bullies you with a fake ID can be your friend whom you met just an hour ago. Yes, this is “the war of all against all”.

If you are reading Aristotle, Nietzsche, Sartre, Marx and Robert Frost in this age, let me congratulate you that you are the most blessed person on the planet. Reading is no longer a defining trait of this age. Here books are useless, classical music is dying, traditional moral order is breaking down and politics is becoming more and more personalized. Read George Orwell’s Animal Farm and apply it to understand contemporary Pakistan and the rest of the world.

The only way forward is to revise our education, politics, economics, and of course, the existing moral order. Global consensus needs to be placed in order to create a peaceful, democratic society.

Twitter and Facebook have become a constant source of disinformation and depression. At Twitter, you will see terrible and horrifying trends, unimaginable manipulation of fact and unmeasurable exaggeration. These social media sites are increasing shrinking the space for ordinary human beings who want something more than politics and abusive language in their lives. It is not possible for many of us to stay normal in real lives after being abused on social media. Give it a thought!

I am not suggesting an end of political discussion on social media but my point is a little different. There need to be some rules, some decency, some shared values or at least some set standards for political debate and academic discussion at any platform. Liberty without order becomes a terrible currency. The social media in Pakistan confirms it.

Read more: Is Social Media a hub of fake news?

Failure of democracy at home and across the world coupled with increased moral backwardness may lead to some serious social-cultural chaos. Therefore, ongoing trends on social media deserve some attention of the political leaders and policymakers. It is pivotal to understand the state of youth at the moment within a failing global order and their future aspirations and available means. It shall help us devising policies which may help us creating a people-friendly public platform where nobody feels insecure or threatened.

Moreover, media and academia across the world need to sense the gravity of the matter and find some ways out. Common people have badly been trapped in what Max Weber had termed long ago an Iron Cage. The only way forward is to revise our education, politics, economics, and of course, the existing moral order. Global consensus needs to be placed in order to create a peaceful, democratic society.

Read more: Why social media might be causing depression?

Finally, my suggestion may deem over-idealistic or mere wishfulness of a person who writes in newspapers and reads old books, but I have no hesitancy to admit that this is the fundamental challenge of our age. It needs attention, deliberation, and well-thought policies to be countered.

Farah Adeed is a Senior Research Analyst in GVS. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s Editorial Policy.

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