Yesterday we wrote about what some young people thought about the chaos that erupted after the Enrique Iglesias’s ‘Sex and Love’ concert in Sri Lanka.
One disturbing incident was the public shaming of a young woman who got on the stage and was hugged and kissed by the internationally renowned pop star. Her personal information was acquired and shared widely on gossip websites and Facebook as well.
Disparaging women who behave in ways that are apparently against some persons’ interpretation of “culture” is sadly quite common. And often, it is on social media that hateful, damaging comments filled with venom are made and shared.
Which raises the question: are social media platforms facilitating or encouraging intolerance and parochial views?
One of the young people we spoke to had an interesting view. Anjana Dharmasiri is a web developer and feels that the cries of foul being sounded on the Internet are nothing short of bigoted. However, he says, social media – as well as the mainstream media – must take part of the blame.
Anjana sees social media as the root of the problem. At the time the Bryan Adams concert was held in Colombo in 2004, social media was not in wide use. The kiss at that concert was spoken about and soon forgotten. There were no smartphones with cameras to capture it and no Facebook to share the videos and images. Internet access was also limited so obtaining details about the girl concerned would have been harder too.
“I think that social media is making people more defensive and behave in erratic ways. I posted a lot of stuff regarding this issue some time back. Best example was during the Seya murder. Social media and gossip websites had a field day on guessing who the killer was. When a new rumour pops up, people get convinced that it is the truth and they have already hanged that particular guy in the comments”, explains Anjana.
Since social media is distributed and regulating it is very difficult, he believes the mainstream media should be more responsible. Providing a solution he says it would be ideal if the mainstream media followed the existing code of ethics when reporting (such a code has adopted by the Editors’ Guild of Sri Lanka and been endorsed by most newspapers). http://www.pccsl.lk/sites/default/files/Code-English.pdf
“The solution has to come from the journalism sphere itself I think. I think mainstream media and professional journalists should get together and come up with a set of ethical boundaries to filter what sort of news they will be reporting. It will be hard because the juicier and scandalous the reported news is, the more people read/watch them. But having self-imposed restrictions should be the way to go and it should come from within the community itself — not from the outside”.
(This article was originally published in www.kiyanna.lk. That site is now changed to www.ivoice.lk owned by SDJF and supported by UNFPA)