Yesterday an ordinary trolling incident brought to light a more serious problem. I was egging on Mr Bhupendra Chaube for a reply to my post, a reply which he had promised me. Quite a few people found it amusing and Retweeted it. One person chose to reply to it, with this tweet:
— Anka (@weareallventing) February 18, 2015
The absolutely unnecessary use of an abusive word upset me. I explained to him that there was no need for such language and he eventually apologized.
But that woke me up to a reality: Why do people use abusive language when the same message can be conveyed differently, and why are Right Wingers (in popular discourse, though the term entirely means something else) said to be more abusive? Using such language definitely doesn’t help their cause.
The main topic at hand gets diluted, the environment becomes tense and vicious, and worst of all, the person towards whom the slur is targeted gets a golden chance to play victim.
The most recent example of such false victim-hood was written about by @bhak_sala when BuzzFeed India editor chose to poke first and when she got the responses she wanted, gladly picked up the victim card and topped it on with the unbeatable sexism card.
And as things stand, the image that is driven in most people’s minds is that it is always the right-wingers who are abusive. This message has been propagated widely by many influential people:
I see the early morning bhakts are out in full force on twitter. The more you lie and abuse on my timeline, the stronger my resolve. — Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) March 26, 2014
But this too is a propaganda. Even the so called “Liberals” of Twitter, who claim to have different ideologies from “Bhakts”, have repeatedly used abusive language for people. Even an artist like Varun Grover, who I appreciate for his art, has used such language on multiple occasions:
And mind you, most of the Right Wing abusers are small fries, sometimes anonymous, and “fake” profiles. They are not high profile members of Bollywood. And also there is no question of “consent” here, which was used to justify “insult jokes” by All India Bakchod.
Of course, one is free to say what he wants, but in a civilized world, abusing people isn’t acceptable or worth encouraging. Although “liberals” are as much abusive (and most of the times they encourage their own trolls – also known as eNREGA coolies – to abuse), the tag of being vicious and abusive has stuck to “Right Wingers”.
But two wrongs can’t make it a right. The Right Wing has to realize that abusing doesn’t help. And the only way to remove this tag, is to change one’s own behavior. Imagine if Right wing criticism is objective and civilized, will the recipients of the criticism have any excuse to hide behind the “burqa” of victim-hood?
Please realize that the so-called “liberals” are often on wrong foot and lacking sane arguments, abusing them gives them an excuse to evade the probing questions.
Forget that, is it appropriate to abuse almost strangers, sometimes even dragging their families? PM Modi has launched a Swachchh Bharat campaign, can Twitter not be covered under it? Can we not expect Twitter users, especially followers of Modi to take his message in a the right spirit and exercise control over one’s language?
It will not only be beneficial for Twitter as a whole, but also for the people who indulge in usage of bad language.
And yes, for the happily abusing “liberals”, who have fallen from grace of being creative artists to being abusive propagandists, my friend and colleague at OpIndia.com, Rahul Raj aka @bhak_sala, has written the following poem:
गुल्लक में ख़्वाबों को इकठ्ठा करने चला था फ़कीर
मज़लूमों का ग़म देखकर बड़ा विचलित हुआ अधीर
humanity का entrepreneurship बहुत बड़ा हरजाई है
पहले investor fund के बाद फिर दिखता नहीं दुहाई है
संघर्ष नशा है – cocaine की तरह नसों में चढ़ जाता है
मज़लूमों को छोड़ फ़कीर propaganda पर उतर आता है
क्रांति में कुचले गए आंसू हफ़्तों में हो जाते हैं बंजर
liberal ढोल पीटने वाले उठा लेते हैं ज़हर का ख़ंजर