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Home Social Media The dark side of the Internet: Sordid saga of the Gurugram mall woman

The dark side of the Internet: Sordid saga of the Gurugram mall woman

Social media is quite a recent phenomenon and it's quite obvious, we have not yet tamed it.

Social media has been abuzz recently after a sordid incident in Gurugram where a woman was caught in a video telling young girls that they ought to be raped for their short clothes. She apparently exhorted others to rape the girls as well.

The woman, quite obviously, holds vile and obnoxious opinions that ought to be relegated to the dustbins of history. Personally, I wouldn’t want her anywhere near myself or my family and friends. Obviously, only a terribly sick person one wish the worst form of abuse on other women, that too, being a woman herself. Having said that, the outrage that has generated in social media has taken a turn that could only be described as extremely dangerous.

Social Media is littered with vile and abusive posts against the woman. The woman is being subjected to a great amount of hate and it has reached a territory where her own personal safety appears to be under threat. She has been shamed for being ‘fat and unattractive’ and people are actually calling upon others to make her life hell. That is indeed a grave turn of events.

Not merely abusive words but people have also called for her to be raped. In a post that has been going viral on social media, which appears to be from the woman herself, she has apologized for her remarks and expressed her regret. However, even in the post, she was showered with tons of abuses and rape threats as well.

Actions have consequences and the moment the video of her atrocious conduct went viral, it was only to be expected that it will have severe repercussions. However, it appears people opposing her hateful conduct seem to have disgraced the very notions of civility that they were supposed to be championing. The entire series of events does say a lot about human nature.

The initial reaction might have been motivated by legitimate concerns but by now, it has devolved into a monstrous cycle of cyber-bullying. What began with good intentions soon gave way to malice. And let us accept what is happening here. Most of the people who are currently taking the woman to the task aren’t doing it for some higher purpose or to achieve some greater objective but only for the satisfaction of their baser urges.

They are engaging in such conduct because hurting people and making them bend against their will, feels good. Cruelty, especially when directed towards someone we think is despicable and worthy of hatred, makes us feel powerful. It is an exhilarating high, it’s a rush of adrenaline and a heady mix of dopamine. It makes us feel good about ourselves. It is human nature and one of its darker aspects.

Further evidence that the whole thing has been hijacked by people with malicious intent and has gone far beyond than what it should have is the fact that people are now going after the husband’s family and her sons who had nothing to do with the woman’s conduct. For all we know, they are themselves embarrassed by how she behaved with the girls. Therefore, trying to ruin their lives does not make any sense whatsoever. As per some accounts, the husband has been removed from his job as well after some feminists made the demand. It’s completely unhinged at this point and is getting very dangerous.

Certain people are also using the woman to further their political agenda. Prime Minister Modi, the Bharatiya Janata Party, people like Anshul Saxena and even Reliance have been dragged into the matter as well, people who have absolutely nothing to do with any of this.

It only goes on to show that the circus that is currently underway has absolutely nothing to do with women’s rights, dignity or any such higher purpose. It is only a sad reflection of people’s baser urges.

There have been multiple unintended casualties as well. People who only share the name with the woman have been targeted as well and have been bombarded with offensive messages and hateful texts. They have been forced to issue statements on social media pleading for people to stop harassing them.

A lot of people have expressed their concerns over what is happening now and lots of others are troubled with recent developments in the matter. There appears to be a deep sense of great discomfort among everyone sensible enough to understand the devastating consequences that this could very well have. It’s a completely different matter altogether whether the individual concerned deserved her fate or not.

A certain Vibhuti Sharma commented something very meaningful in her apology post which I would like to reproduce here:

This has been taken too far. Whatever was said to the girls was wrong and it is their right to be angry, but the way people reacted to the video and sent her hate messages is nothing short of cyberbullying. How do people endorse feminism while body shaming at the same time? Why can’t we as a society be angry at the thoughts and opinions of the person alone, and not at the person itself? People started associated her with the very abstract of all the atrocities women have faced, which is far from real.  Her opinions are borrowed too, she was brought up that way. And no good will come out of sending her hate, body shaming her.  Why can’t we be an educated society which works towards changing the outlooks of people, rather than trying to kill the person itself? Hate the crime, not the criminal.

If the woman has been suffering the consequences for her disgraceful conduct, the girls who shared the video are at the receiving end of harsh criticism as well. If they thought they were going to emerge from this as heroes for everyone, they were obviously quite wrong. They are being accused of bullying the woman and engaging in body-shaming. Some say they purposely took things too far merely for the sake of attention. Some have questioned their true intentions by citing that no police complaint was filed by the girls in the matter yet. Whether these allegations are true or not is beside the point, the fact of the matter is, these girls will be dragged through the mud as well by the time all of this over.

The chain of events precisely demonstrate the darker aspects of social media. The video may very well have been shared with good intentions, although it can be very well argued that it was shared to exact revenge against the woman for her despicable conduct, which is again a completely justifiable sentiment, now it has degenerated into an orgy of cyber-bullying and online harassment.

It appears unlikely that the woman will ever recover from this. It can be safely said that her life has been completely ruined. Memes have been circulating shaming her, mocking her and ridiculing her, social media is littered with her pictures and unfortunately for her, the internet forgets nothing. It is completely a different debate about whether she deserves it or not. As it so happens, social media does not offer time for such debates.

Social media is quite a recent phenomenon and it’s quite obvious, we have not yet tamed it. Worse, it does tend to bring out the worst in us. How the story ends, we may never know. The woman may put all of this behind and make a fresh beginning. Or she may end up making a worse decision than she did when she decided to abuse those girls. We may never know. Today, it was her. Tomorrow, it will be someone else. Inevitably, there will be an innocent victim in all of this. If we do not learn to tame the beast, there will be devastating consequences.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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