[Thread] Invention of Social Media democratized discourse. It was much needed. Legacy media was guarded by old boys club and it was impossible to break into it. Still is. So SM brought in a whiff of fresh air.
In 2012, when SM was just about gaining ground in India I was ecstatic about what it had achieved and what it could achieve. This is what I had written then swarajyamag.com/commentary/new…
In 2021, 9 years later, I think it is time to write a sequel to this piece. SM is still democratizing discourse, it still gives voice to the voiceless but it has also brought with it some consequences that we had not accounted for.
Stuff that has started to bother me apart from obvious FB, Twitter, YouTube becoming tech behemoths and law unto themselves is that SM hasn’t stayed true to its original promise. The original promised was unfettered freedom of speech without censorship. That seems compromised.
Social Media promotes radicalization by incentivizing group think. Strange algorithms push people to only one kind of thought process and ideology. You could spend a lifetime on social media today without even coming across any counter narrative to yours. This is by design.
When you stay in your own bubble, you get retweets and likes and shares by your own set of people and you begin to think this is all there is to any debate. You get addicted to your ‘importance’. You are happy, SM behemoth is happy and world is hunky dory except it isn’t
This hanky panky by tech companies of incentivizing group think was soon noticed by political groups, special interest groups, and other assorted groups. And believe it or not by old legacy media . They began bombarding you with one sided information and rhetoric.
You became a willing recipient to propaganda and rhetoric because you never heard anything else. I would initially compare SM to town square where you could say what you wanted. Little did I know SM would build million town squares for million groups.
On SM this siloed existence was okay until it spilled over to the real world. There you met people will all kinds of opinions and you did not know how to communicate or convince. You have lost that ability. On SM you only troll and get trolled. There is very little conversation
When trolling spills to real world it becomes violent. Months of rhetoric and unverified nonsense spilled on January 6 in Capitol Hill. That was just one visible instance. Much more will follow. I blame SM giants for this. They manipulated opinion slyly .
I will write a follow up piece to my 2012 piece soon. For now I am wondering how to get out of this mess. Censorship is not acceptable nor is manipulation of ideas acceptable. SM especially FB has huge privacy issues also. For now we must just learn to break through groupthink.

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More from @sunandavashisht

7 Jan
Now that I have had my moments of Schadenfreude followed by sadness at the events that unfolded in Capitol Hill, it is time for some serious reflection. Everyone saw the shameful scenes that unfolded and there is nothing one can add to that. However let’s see what else happened.
1) Capitol Hill should never have been breached but once this happened the citadel of American democracy was secured quickly as soon as law makers were evacuated. Within couple of hours the Capitol Hill was secure again and rioters had been thrown out.
2) US Congress reconvened as soon as they could and certified Joe Biden’s election victory. They sent a strong message that no one is more important than the constitution and they are beholden to the constitution and not to any mob.
Read 7 tweets
22 Dec 20
I have always maintained that @narendramodi ‘s domestic Kashmir policy in the long run will be judged by 3 things 1) Free and fair elections 2) Equal Political representation to Jammu. 3) Safety and rehabilitation of minorities. #DDCElections2020
Weeding out terrorism is a national security issue and topmost priority for any govt in New Delhi. So I will not classify that under domestic Kashmir policy. Free and fair elections to strengthen grassroots democracy post Art 370 has been achieved today #DDCElections2020
A beginning has been made today. I am glad despite high rhetoric, valley based parties have participated in the elections and put their faith in electoral process. Glad that BJP no longer believes valley is out of bounds for the party. #DDCElections2020
Read 4 tweets
9 Dec 20
I think at this point all negotiations should stop. Zamindari system was long abolished in India. This zamindari system that exists under cover in Punjab must go too in the interest of real tillers of the soil.
I don’t understand Left politics in this country. Haven’t Leftist parties always stood by poor and landless farmers? In this agitation they are standing by absentee landlords/neo zamindars and in a way propagating zamindari system of the yore. What kind of left politics is this?
What rich farmers and absentee landlords of Punjab essentially want is this - They want to keep growing sub- standard grains and then force the govt to buy it at a gun point. This is extortion. Farmer will have to grow what is in demand and will have to produce quality produce.
Read 5 tweets
8 Dec 20
Do you know that MSPs are transferred through DBTs everywhere except in Punjab, where it goes through intermediaries? myind.net/Home/viewArtic…
Most leftist career rabble rousers won’t tell you this about Punjab-tiller is usually not the landowner. Therefore poor farmer who toils on the field does not even get any benefit of the govt schemes. Check this report from March indianexpress.com/article/india/…
The ‘poor farmer’ image that we get from 50’s and 60’s Hindi cinema is not even applicable in Punjab. Absentee landlordism exists everywhere and most absentee landlords are NRI’s. Poor tillers are too scared to even tell you who their landowners are.
Read 4 tweets
26 Nov 20
There comes a time- in the life of nation as in the life of an individual, when you must make tough decisions and stand by them. It is time to say coercive religious conversions are human rights violation. No free society should accept forced conversion borne out of intimidation.
This becomes even more important in a society where majority DOES NOT proselytize. There is no point sugarcoating this. Few celebrities in South Mumbai and South Delhi cannot be a template for what is the lived reality of thousands.
Those who stand for Human Rights, those who stand for freedom, liberty and individual rights, must call out forced conversions. Those who stand for gender rights must stand for women having agency to not convert under intimidation.
Read 5 tweets
16 Nov 20
Thread-Seeing a lot of ‘template articles’ from Indian origin commentators who focus on India-US relationship. Here is the template 1) India-US relationship is beyond whoever occupies the White House 2) lot of progress has been made 3) Biden will ‘question’ India on Human Rights
Half of this commentary is lazy commentary.Other half is working on ‘pressurizing’ India to walk into the US camp because ‘Strategic Autonomy’ is just so ‘Indian’. India must choose a bloc -a commentator writing for a Indian newspaper made it palatable by calling it a system :)
There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that India-US cooperation is not just necessary but inevitable. There is lot of pro America sentiment in India today compared to Cold War era. No politician except loony far left, who will never come to power, promote antagonism with the US
Read 9 tweets

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