No matter how much we brag about being the best among all of God’s creations, humans have given rise to anomalies in every possible sphere they have stepped into.
We created two separate spaces: One being the reality we live in, and another is the virtual one in the form of the internet. Needless to say how the latter has gained traction, and to some extent, priority over our physical existence.
We communicate to express our views or convey our needs, and vent our feelings every day. Social media platforms have enabled us to do the same, online. But problems arise when you factor in the impunity with which anyone can express themselves on the internet.
Respect for others’ privacy is vanishing, and the same goes for one’s own privacy, as we upload literally anything and everything. Illiteracy about online interactions and their consequences is completely visible.
Moreover, the virtual world creates a space for commenting on matters of rape, death, and other sensitive issues -- comments which sometimes hold no bars of sensibility -- while defaming celebrities on their social media accounts is nothing new.
In the society we live in, particularly in our country, it is utter foolishness to not expect the existence of what some people call an “ugly mentality.”
These troublesome issues, which get exacerbated on the internet, are barely exclusive to the virtual space -- the same ills exist in the real world too.
Online harassment, trolling, and bullying are simply acute manifestations of the disorders from the physical space.
First, there are people who wouldn’t think for a second before verbally abusing other people or situations in their regular physical surroundings. These same people are using the internet and polluting the space with their poison mentalities as well.
Second, a direct result of the anonymity that the internet bestows upon us, people who pretend to possess moderate views on the outside, do not hesitate to utilize the online platforms to express and proliferate their negative and hateful messages.
Social media enables users to easily create fake identities or to portray unreal personas, and is eminently responsible for the deterioration of behaviour and egregious violation of human dignity.
Society expects us to abide by a positive outlook towards our surroundings. This influence helps some to acquire positivity, whereas some are forced to suppress their insecurities till they get the opportunity to demonstrate their cruel, demeaning, unreasonable, and pathetic beliefs.
Punishment is an effective mechanism in discouraging criminal. The fear of punishment needs to be inserted as a deterrent, and simultaneously the existence of cyber laws must be rendered to the mass
We formulated laws to keep such people in check, and although those laws did not produce a society completely free of crime, it did succeed in keeping anti-social tendencies in check.
Opposite to the boundaries imposed by society and societal norms, virtual existence bestows a somewhat perceived impunity from everything, and freedom to write any kind of comment on anything, regardless of the emotional consequences.
Receiving unwanted and harassing messages from complete strangers has sadly become a form of online violence all too common to internet users.
Much like people themselves, disorders have also adapted to the virtual space and transformed into cyber crimes. Thus, cyber crimes in Bangladesh can be highly related to existing social problems. Those who are abusing the access to social media are no different than virtual criminals.
We can at best think of curbing crimes instead of mythicizing the erasure of criminal activities from existence. Similarly, the maladies on the internet can only be restrained, not prevented. Like any other solution to crime, the first step is to study the criminals and understand the behaviour pattern of the virtual perpetrators.
Punishment is an effective mechanism in discouraging criminal. The fear of punishment needs to be inserted as a deterrent, and simultaneously the existence of cyber laws must be rendered to the mass.
Freedom of expression on the internet is not a liberty void of responsibilities. It is subject to cyber laws in our country. This simple message needs to reach everyone.
On the other hand, jealousy, intolerance, hate, or unexplainable malicious attitudes cannot be barred by punishment. We need to understand that criminals are often influenced by psychological catalysts or mental instability.
This is where prioritizing mental health comes in -- by initiating and enhancing psychological education and evaluation. Not so surprisingly, it is a taboo in our society to address or treat mental illness as a disease. Our stereotypical beliefs have led to a huge number of psychological patients in entirely unattended states.
Self respect and respecting others as human beings is hardly taught and learned in our society. Most of the online harassment and vulgarity are actually a culmination of lack of respect.
The absence of compassion, sensibility, and respect from others on social media has left most of us in awe.
Application of legal measures can only be fruitful when the realization of right and wrong can be imparted, and therefore, online ethics is something which we can, for a start, emphasize on.
Instead of shaming and secluding disturbed individuals, we need to strive for an integral society with love and respect for all. To that end, Mother Teresa rightly said: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
Raihan Rahman Rafid is a freelance contributor.