How has social media impacted (urban?) activism? A few days back, a girl in Guwahati was molested by a group of men. This dastardly act was allegedly instigated by a journalist with his friend who wanted to film it. While, what I think of the act and what should be done to the perpetrators can be discussed separately (anyone heard of surgical castration without anesthesia); it is interesting to see how this entire event played out on social media.
As soon as the video surfaced and became viral on Youtube, there was a deluge of comments, including most condemning the act, some laying the blame on the girl’s inappropriate manners and her attire; but interestingly, there were many comments that looked like a volley of abuses being hurled between people totally unknown to each other on and completely unrelated to the topic of discussion.
Next was the turn of Facebook. Images like these soon surfaced on Facebook, shared and commented upon by thousands of people, suggesting what should be done to the perpetrators – and some suggestions weren’t particularly charitable…
The Alleged Perpetrators - This is a TV Grab from the clips aired on many TV channels
The Alleged Perpetrators - Someone compiled this image and it got hundreds of shares on Facebook
The Main Accused - Total Slaughter of Reputation
So what defines citizen activism? What impact do such actions of hundreds of thousands of people on public networks have in the real world? Is it fair that a girl raped in public somewhere in the rural hinterland of India will get infinitely delayed justice because she does not have a Facebook account?
These are some questions that I have been thinking about and struggling to answer. As for the Guwahati episode, social media has made the perpetrators infamous. It has also had a very positive fall out for at least one person – the NCW member who was sacked for revealing the victim’s identity. As one can see from her Facebook page(https://www.facebook.com/alkalambaaicc), the aspiring politician has got a good amount of conversation going on her page.