Trolling is a common term used in the modern internet day and age. It means making unruly and insensitive comments about people or situations and posting them online to give people something to giggle about. Trolling also gave birth to the meme culture, which has grasped the attention of the youth. Usually, people consider trolling and memes as harmless and just for fun. But in reality, there is a very thin line between harmless and harmful humor and most of the time this line is crossed.
As such, there is no evident sign of damage caused by these activities but when we take a closer look, we see the hidden damage.
Just stop and think about the people being trolled for a second.
Think how they might get affected by it. Is it something to be proud of that millions of people on the internet are laughing, making insensitive comments about you, or your family? No, it is not. They go through mental distress, psychological issues, and humiliation in their life. Moreover, in rare cases, they lose their friends and family support. People have also taken their own lives just because of internet trolls.
Sometimes for trolling purposes, people are photographed without their consent. And, before they know their picture or video has spread on the internet like wildfire and there’s nothing they can do. Clicking pictures without permission is illegal and very unethical. Pakistan’s Cybercrime Act also criminalizes the unpermitted sharing of pictures on the internet.
What exactly are we promoting through trolling?
Most memes are centered around making fun of someone’s body, language, color, race, or even some trivial mistake they make. Memes that body shame, set up beauty standards that are most often an ill representation of a majority of the people. People get self-conscious and end up damaging their bodies through fad diets, detoxes, and fairness products. All this just because they are being told by random people on the internet that the way they look is ‘ugly’. Through trolling we are teaching our younger generation that if you don’t belong to a specific skin tone you basically don’t deserve to be respected. Usually, women are targeted through these memes.
There are also memes that troll people on their poor English speaking or writing skills, whereas no one cares about how your Urdu is.
Your angrezi should be perfect even if you don’t know how to spell your name in Urdu. It is not a problem if someone does not know how to speak English fluently. Especially since our national language is Urdu! It doesn’t warrant making a laughing stock of them on the internet. But, we do the opposite and spend hours telling someone how their accent is paindu. The girl trolled for just saying “we are proud of you” is a prime example of this. Don’t we have days where we have a slip of tongue? Do you think she would be able to gather her shattered confidence and speak on national television ever again in her life?
Influential people like celebrities also troll around occasionally. YouTubers or Facebook influentials sometimes use social media as a tool to troll people. They have a powerful voice in society and it can sometimes be misused. Apologies made later don’t just reverse their insensitive actions.
Celebrities and politicians conversely also get trolled for their dressing or badly angled pictures etc.
Yes, they are public figures but their personal life is not up for grabs by internet trolls to scrutinize. What they choose to wear is their volition. How they spend their time is their decision. It’s quite simple: if you don’t like someone there is an option to unfollow, instead of telling them that they might end up in hell.
Another reason for actively condemning trolls and memes is to counter unproductivity in youth. Instead of constructive activities, youngsters spend time tagging their friends in useless memes. This is quite a waste of brain power.
Social media can be a productive tool, so use it to bring up someone’s morale instead of harassing and trolling them. What you like, share, and comment reflects your personality. So the next time you are on social media, be mindful of that. People become overnight internet sensations just by trolling someone. But what’s the use of such fame which comes from hurting someone’s sentiments and being a bully? Social media is a weapon. If not used properly it can end up bringing long-term damages, which will only be regressive for our society.