Animated Discussions to Animosity

We, the people of India, have voted in the next government under the leadership of Narendra Modi with a clear majority. India is all set for legislative stability for next 5 years.

This election was unique and electrifying in every sense. Political parties launched aggressive campaigns and tried every trick in the world to achieve victory. For the first time (in my memory) common people passionately debated issues across different topics like development, governance, economy, corruption, human rights, education, and even healthcare. The debates happened at homes, on the streets, in restaurants, and above all on social networks. I found it to be a very positive trend and I have no doubt that it will help in changing the political discourse in India. For any student of human behavior it presented a perfect opportunity to learn and decode from human reactions. Several alarming trends emerged from this elections and I was disappointed to see some of the reactions. This is my attempt to highlight the alarming trends and discuss them with an open mind.

Lack of objectivity: Debates on social media or otherwise lacked objectivity. ‘My party can do no wrong’ attitude prevailed. People selectively put out stories of other parties making stupid statements while conveniently ignoring statements or actions by their own party. It is important to have objectivity in discussing issues of national importance.

Fiction ruled over facts: It was disheartening to see educated (and otherwise sensible) people spreading fictional stories, photographs, and posters through social networks. Personal opinions were passed around as facts without providing any data points or providing very ill informed data points compiled by western journalists.

Intolerance towards opposite opinions: I observed that most debates started of well but as they progressed intolerance started surfacing. Rudeness, personal accusations, and calling names hijacked the real issues. In fact I personally was abused and subjected to rudeness on Facebook because I spoke in favour of Narendra Modi or against AAP. In fact some people decided that it was not worth having me as a their social connection as I was being communal. In effect my social network shrunk by 10 people who opted out of our connectivity. It demonstrated highest level of intolerance and felt like a my-way-or-highway situation.

Intolerance towards humour: Expressions or videos or photos used in humour were subjected to emotional responses rather than taking a moment to laugh at the chaos that prevailed in India. One person got angry and blocked me on Facebook because I posted or some journalist friends were rude to me because I posted a video called great Indian media circus showing Rahul, Kejriwal and Modi in a humourous way.

I found it extremely disappointing that my social group moved from just doing animated discussions to actually demonstrating animosity. Now that the elections are over all I can say is take it easy folks. You can continue to be animated if you want but forget animosity. We might have differences in terms of our idea of India but I’m sure none of us want India to fail. So please get back to business and help the next government build a better India.

(Photo credit: Pete Simon: