In today’s world, social media has become one’s morning bread and evening butter. Not a single time of the day can people spend without being dependent on social media for knowing every day’s daily affairs. While social media has turned out to be a blessing in everybody’s lives in the current times, it also holds its shares of banes.
Social media has made people more reliable on outside knowledge rather than inside. Not only does social media helps one to become aware of the current scenarios around, but also makes people distant from indebting reading. There is nothing left as inherent introspection anymore, people tend to believe whatever they see. And, this is exactly where the problem strikes in.
However, social media is a two-way compound molecule. On one hand, it contains the positive aspects and on the other hand, it accommodates the negative assertions. Henceforth, which one do we tend to choose more becomes the most important question.
A Mixed Impact
Many socially outrageous influences have been visible in the ongoing Israel, Gaza, and Palestine debacle. With people tending to choose sides and giving out their opinion at every prospect, getting a positive result gets difficult. However, if we see this from an affirmative light, this enables people to gather a lot of knowledge and facts about the current scenarios.
However, it is often said that a little knowledge is too dangerous, which is exactly what social media accounts for. It does not allow people to look at the broader picture and therefore, people only tend to form an opinion of what they see in front of them. They fail to look at the fact that a coin always holds two sides.
For instance, let us peek a little into what is happening in Israel, Palestine, and Gaza. This will help enable us to do a full-proof analysis as to how has social media impacted the popular chaos there.
What is the Israel and Gaza Debacle?
The Israel- Palestine conflict does not account to today or any contemporary time. It dates back to the ages and times of World War I. Although, the amount of violence has always been rising every time a conflict took place, this time it has gone out of proportion. With the Israeli police interfering with the proceedings of Palestinians on the holy month of Ramadan, it gave rise to a huge clash of arms between the two sides.
The militant group, Hamas that rules over the Gaza strip answered this interference by a rocket attack on Israel, thus, creating the beginning of the clash episode. Israel also gave a back answer by an airstrike on Gaza, killing people in masses and putting down residential buildings altogether.
A huge number of people were killed on both sides, with women and children being the worst hits. This has accounted for a large amount of international criticism for both sides.
Role of Social Media in the Conflict
One might just wonder what role does social media have to play in this entire conflicting scenario? Well, the answer is quite simple. Social media has allowed people to form an opinion. A striking opinion about who is right and who is wrong. A complete picture of the horrendous reality and the sufferings of people. Along with this, a full-blown history of the past and present.
On one hand, social media has granted people the liberty to even express their opinion without asking for any factual consent. But, on the other hand, it also accounts for people to choose sides while having factual discrepancies.
With images of violence and terror flowing all over a person’s feed on social media sites, people are quick to blame one side and praise the other. Some people are finding faults in the working of Hamas, while others are hugely censuring Israel’s take on the entire brawl.
Although, there cannot be any denial of the fact that social media has made people’s lives easier. But, it has also made people act according to their convenience. You must wonder where does the problem lie in this? The problem lies in the lack of research and quick judgments.
People do not tend to research well about the said agenda that is the point of discussion. They depend only on social media to know the whereabouts and form a judgment on the very basics. This is low-key problematic and un-systematic as there are a lot of facets of the ongoing topic that social media does not reflect.
Social media will only reflect the version of the holder of the account, it will not provide one with a generalized broad idea.
A generic notion of the events will allow people to decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong. It will enable them to form an outlook all by themselves without any third-person influence. This will in turn stop them from quick and misjudgments.
Social media is a plethora of lies and misinformation. When we talk about misjudgments, we must also mention misinformation. There is a lot of fake news or fake pieces of information that float all over social media. However, the saddest part comes when people believe it to be true and act upon it.
For instance, recently, the Israeli Prime Minister’s spokesman, posted a video on his Twitter handle that showcased Palestinian militants at the Gaza Strip launching rocket attacks on Israelis. As soon as the video surfaced on social media sites, people’s anger went beyond control. The video was re-shared, re-tweeted, and amplified a thousand times.
Consequently, people were quick to form judgments and took to massive trolling and online opinion forming.
However, it was later found out that the footage that was shared was not authentic or real coverage. It did not even belong to the week itself. The place that appeared in the footage was not Gaza Strip, it was of rockets being launched from Syria or Libya.
This proves out to be a perfect example of social media spreading lies. Social media is a boon in many ways, but it turns out to be a complete bane when it comes to rolling out fake news pieces, footage, and hurling around false information.
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels
Escalating Rampage on Israel-Gaza Situation
It will not be wrong to say that social networking sites have somewhere or the other worked as a major instigator for the near war-like situation between Israel and Palestine. The above-mentioned video was just a small fraction of the large bag of misinformation and fake pieces.
With violence rising all over the territories of Israel and Gaza, the false information going all about social sites is becoming a hindrance to things calming down. The fake broodings on social media are not only succumbed to false videos or footages, but they also contain clips of texts purported to be from government officials. Along with this, they also carry horrific pictures of violence, death, and dreariness, which might not always be from the reported sites.
This entire fake information debacle has ruined the reputation of both sides. It has put an equally bad light on both Israel and Gaza. In addition to this, big leaders believing all of this to be true has further worsened the situation. These social media footages have served as a big obstacle to attaining peace between both sides. As, the social media fight escalates, putting everything back down to normal becomes near to impossible.
Distinguishing Becomes Difficult
Another concern that might arise out of this entire misinformation fiasco, is an average man is the main sufferer. Even if they do not believe everything blindly, doubt is raised in the back of their minds.
People fail to distinguish between genuine stuff and fake stuff. With both these substances getting mixed, people either believe whatever they see or they get to ignore the real material. One cannot even blame them completely. How can one distinguish between fake and genuine news pieces from a pool of divergent, wholesome thoughts?
Creation of Trauma
The number of violent pictures, videos, footage, and coverage that surfaces on social media, can seriously take a toll on one’s mental health and sanity. Live streams and actual coverage often give a disturbing glimpse of warfare.
By viewing this amount of violence involving murder and death, people get to a disturbed state of mind. They do sympathize with those trapped in those horrendous situations, but at the same time deteriorate their mental peace. Who can be perfectly normal after seeing pictures of dead bodies all over? How can a person not be affected after eyeing helpless women and children begging and crying on the streets for help?
Such inhuman conditions will anyway ignite a sense of melancholy and trauma in people. With young adolescents and children intrigued to view such content on social media, it affects their sense of emotions in the long run. It fills them with a sense of privileged guilt. While they sit back at home and see the screen, the people on the screen are giving up their lives in a harrowing way.
Another factor that inherently comes with social networking platforms and their effectiveness is censorship. With a ceasefire finally pouring in, the Israel-Palestine conflict has finally decided to hit a little bit of ice. However, in all these violent tumults, social media had taken the center stage.
Social media has worked as the major juncture for all kinds of direct documentation, checking out of ground reality and showcasing violent delineations. Though this has enabled people to know the actual reality, this has not come without abuse.
According to a lot of Palestinian journalists and evicted people, their social media posts have been deactivated. They have not been able to use social media as a weapon to voice their opinion. This sparked a massive debate on social media about how much truth content has gone through scrutiny and been removed due to certain conservative guidelines.
People have also claimed it to be majoritarian state propaganda and an indirect way of suppressing the victims. However, putting down content has come upon both sides. Due to this, platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have faced major backlash from all over the world.
However, these social media platforms, especially Facebook that also owns Instagram, have said this to be “a widespread global technical issue not related to any particular topic”. They have entirely blamed it on their technical network policies.
A Positive Side
Although a lot of impacts that social media has brought in the above-mentioned circumstances have mostly revolved around negative intricacies. There lies a positive side to social media as well. Just like the Israel-Gaza situation, social media can work out as a boon in near-like war situations.
Let us talk precisely about its benefits.
1. Voice your Opinion
It enables people to voice their opinion on a platform where they can be themselves. They can express themselves without fearing what others will say as it is their media account and everyone has an entitlement to their opinion.
2. A Brief Analysis
Social media also allows one to get a brief idea about other’s opinions. Many times one may get a fair idea about the happenings of a particular thing through it.
For people to help each other, support each other and communicate, social networking sites truly provide a quality platform.
Freedom of Speech and Expression
Although the Voice your Opinion sector does speak a little about Freedom of Speech and Expression, this topic needs a little more insight.
Freedom of speech and expression are extremely important components of a person’s life. It gives them a sense of entitlement that they hold a place in a country. However, in current times with censorship stepping in, the liberty to voice your opinion has somewhere taken a back foot.
However, social media does provide one with a platform to write or speak whatever they want to. A social media account holder becomes their own mentor. They do not have to think about others or ask somebody before posting something. This gives them upper liberty to express what they feel like, and consider their opinion important even for themselves.
Is Social Media worth it?
Though social media as a platform has given one extensive opportunity as a person, when we look at the larger picture, it seems disappointing. Somewhere or the other the essence of it seems lost. It has turned more into a battleground rather than a content-sharing ground.
It has turned out to have more negative connotations than positive outcomes. For instance, leaders like the President of Azerbaijan employing Twitter to threaten Armenia. Such situations do provoke a sense of futile melancholy in people.
The very fact that social media emerged was not to be employed as a terror-creating ground. The sad part lies in the fact that social media is heavily used to spread negativity and dreariness rather than focusing on some affirmations.
Although, it will be completely wrong to say that social media is only used to open out toxicity. Some people are using social platforms exactly for the reason it was created. For instance, India’s ex-Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj used social media to answer her followers. Similarly, NATO general secretary, Jens Stoltenberg, took to social media to be present for ‘Ask me Anything’ rounds.
This shows their accountability towards their public and common people. When people use social media for this purpose, for example, to hold themselves accountable or be more responsible, it seems that social media has gone into good hands.
“In Online World, Social Media is the War Field, and Screenshots and Uploading Statuses are the Most Dangerous Weapons.”
People often wonder if social media is a boon or a bane. Though there is not any denying of the fact that both negative and positive aspects are present equally, but which one weighs more on the other? Well, the answer can lie once again in one’s perspective.
Social media is a game of perspectives. If you believe something to be true without digging deep, there is no way you can get out of the never-ending clutches. The entire public network entity has changed and the most horrific face of it was revealed in the Israel- Gaza conflict.
With misinformation, trolls, and violent images hovering all over, it will not be wrong to say that it had a role to play in delaying peace. Something that could have been put under some control, was escalated. But, whom do we blame for this entire situation? People who are believing everything they see? Or people who are creating such content? We will never know the answer to this.
However, social media as a platform has in any way indebted a lot of toxicity in people. So, this toxicity getting a notch higher in a war-like situation is not new. This is what exactly happened in the Israel Palestine situation. It was blown out of proportion not only in the war fields but also in public networking fields.
For more articles, click here: Social Media and Influence of Hashtags
Sources: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/14/technology/israel-palestine-misinformation-lies-social-media.html https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-palestine-social-media-used-abused-disinformation-manipulation-censorship