Cricket and the Trolling Neighbours – Muhammad Fayaz

While writing these lines, the Pakistani media is still keeping us busy in constantly showing our historic win against India in Champions trophy at The Oval, on 18th of June. The victory was undoubtedly a source of joy and unity for the whole nation.

However, before the mouth watering contest and after the stunning defeat of India, the social media was abuzz with trolls, memes, and other sarcastic posts, aimed at each other’s nations.

Common people, former cricketers and almost everyone took to their social media accounts. I found their behaviour disquieting which compelled me to write about these negative tendencies, present on both sides of the borders.

It cannot be denied that cricket matches between the two neighbors attract large number of people and excessive media hype is provided to it. The spread of social media has given further importance to such events where people from both countries support their teams and vent their anger mainly by ridiculing, trolling, and disparaging the other side. Only a small number of people could be seen supporting their teams within the social, ethical and moral norms, and the same happened in this final. It shall be desirable to mention some of the important social media posts which attracted wide attention.

Who could have missed the tweets of Rishi Kapoor which went beyond the language of cricket, Virinder Sehwag’s tweets about the father and son relationship of India and Pakistan, Amir Liaqat’s obnoxious language about the Indians, and Rashid Latif’s arrogant reply to Sehwag.

Some even went further by putting religious beliefs of others and used every possible abusive word for it. After the match, one cellular company immediately came up with one mocking advertisement #Noissuelaylotissue.

By and large, people from both sides made references to their past; used repugnant words, and gave their own interpretations of history, best suited to their own nations. Ironically, all such tweets and posts which were scornful and bitter, kept on re-tweeting and sharing.

To cap it all; majority of people played on the same bandwagon: troll your neighbour, treat it as an eternal enemy, do not consider it as a cricket match, but war and so on.

Despite 70 years since independence, both countries have a number of disputes; yet to be resolved. The list of the contentious issues has grown with the passage of time, which needs no mentioning.

The youth and general public have mostly hated each other and have failed to develop respect for each other. Their bellicosity and hatred for each others have always provided an opportunity for their leaders to play with their fates and have never compelled them to think peace. Resultantly, the socio-economic indicators of both the countries are not worthy of appreciation and are no match to other regional countries or beyond region.

With number of unresolved disputes between both the neighbors, this generation has an important role to play on social media, that is, ‘to be the harbingers of peace and not just troll each other’. It is our future which is at stake owing to the animosity between both countries.

It is one harsh reality of modern wars that those who make its decisions are mostly immune from its fallout. The leaders and generals who make decisions of war do not send their children to it, but ours.

Although, every war brings horror and has an impact on every class, but the common man with his little resources is hit harder. The children and women of rich class most probably will make it to safer places but the lower class is sometimes displaced in such a way that it never finds a way back home with its honor intact or without any bruise.

This generation needs to be more cautious, particularly on social media. It is such an important tool that it can change the minds in any direction.

In this whole trolling episode, the pictures of M.S.Dhoni with the baby of Sarfaraz, and Virat Kohli’s images with children of Azhar Ali were meritorious and adorable that one could have looked at it for the whole day.

Similarly, Younis khan’s appeal on Twitter to his fans not to post such comments and videos which were disgraceful to the other side, was also followed, shared and liked.

Social media is of paramount importance in shaping public opinion; with few mentioned scornful trolls and social media posts, could we expect that we will lay a solid foundation for our coming generation?

Would we give an enlightened and educated opinion to the youth who will take the reins of our countries? Would we be able to resolve our disputes through dialogue and diplomacy? The answer seems to be a big ‘No”, unless we change our attitudes towards others.

Let us make a strong commitment today for love, respect, and peace. Social media users must think twice, in fact thrice, before posting anything online. We all should keep a little bit fun away from harsh trolling and spiteful social media posts.

The social media posts, ostensibly made for publicity or fun are widely seen, shared and debated. For this very reason we must eschew the unnecessary trolling and offensive posts on social media because it becomes very appealing for young minds and they will grow with this bigotry in their minds. Consequently, the relations between the two neighbours

will not improve with such hatred in the hearts of their youth or general population.

Let us show to our leaders and the world that we have enough room in our hearts for each other. Enough of this war mongering and insecurities, this is high time that we moved on to resolve the issues by give and take, and not with the mentality of pre-ponderance.

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