Complain — it’s important
By: Saher Baloch
Karachi: Blogger Faisal Kapadia started off a discussion on ‘Slacktivism’ on the opening day of the Pakistan-India Social Media Mela here on Friday by saying that they were going to deliberate on “how social media got someone fired”.
The “someone” in his comment was obviously Maya Khan and how outrage on social media led to the termination of her job as a morning show host of a TV channel. But speakers made it clear that the intention behind such outrage was not to get people fired from their jobs.
Beena Sarwar, a peace activist and senior journalist, said that it was the mindset the outrage should be against more than anything else.
“People wouldn’t have known or seen her work otherwise. [The] Maya Khan episode touched a nerve with everyone. Our job doesn’t end here; we should pinpoint at all times,” she argued.
The outrage and anger over Khan chasing couples in a park was something that did not go down well with anyone. Mehreen Kasana, who wrote a page-long letter to Khan that went viral on the web, is another web blogger, who got threatened by a fan of the anchor on Facebook.
“He thought I’m jealous of her looks. That’s why the outrage,” Kasana said with a straight face.
Talking of threats, activist Marvi Sirmed said that the content that went on air was mostly unverified and as a result, the threat posed to another person’s life also went unnoticed.
However, she said that the future of the social media looked hopeful and to keep it intact people should come up with more complaints on their own.
“What people need to understand is that social media is not a homogenous body which takes action on certain issues and stays silent over others. It is a group of people like you and I and must complain if we find something sensational,” she added.
On hearing the word sensational, Kapadia quickly asked Kasana “Kya aap nai Ghalib film dekhi hai?” to a roaring laughter and applause from the audience.
Kasana said people on the social media need to understand that when they vent anger, a number of people know, maybe in thousands, but when an anchor vents anger, there are millions who watch him/her. The examples, she said, are too many to count.
Mentioning one incident, she said that what an anchor said on TV resulted in the death of a sitting governor, and no one could do anything about it. In another incident, a man set vengeance against a particular sect and killings were reported from an area as a result.
At this point, Beena Sarwar asked: “For how long will we be hostage to TV ratings and unverified content?”
Taking a cue, Sirmed replied that the situation would change when people started complaining. Among the panelists at the Pakistan Electronic and Media Regulatory Authority, she said that many a time people vented anger about the most banal things.
“Like once we received a complaint from a man who had a problem with Katrina Kaif showing legs in an advertisement,” Sirmed said, adding that people needed to come forward with complaints anyway.
Wrapping up the session, Kapadia suggested that everyone should write letters and record statements if they found something offensive. “And if you do and they do not listen, switch off the damn TV. That’s the best revenge.”