Back when there was no digital age ( yes millennials, there was an age like that!), we were perhaps lot more circumspect, lot more understanding, had a well thought opinion. We had newspapers which always had a counterpoint. We had editors for these newspapers who put a high price on every word that went into the newspaper.
Not anymore. In this digital age, we are quick on the uptake, finger on the hair trigger, short fuse, shoot first is the way to go.
We read something (facebook, twitter, whatsapp are not for news people!), and we go all out to take a stand. It doesn’t matter to us if what we read is true or not. We don’t wait to check the veracity.
We show our angst, our rage, our support, and every possible emotion that is elicited.
One guy says he had problem with a brand, a thousand people will join to trash the brand. Controversies bring out the worst in us and in our responses. Most of the time, we have no clue as to the real story. We read one version and BOOM!
Newton’s Third Law was “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
When we read something, do we stop to think and consider why it happened? Or we go with whoever between the two was able to get his words in before the other person could.
In digital age, whoever gets the first one in, is the winner. Nothing else matters after that. The other person can cry himself hoarse to give his side of the story. Won’t work. We have already read, believed and commented on the first story and moved on. We are not even there to hear the counterpoint.
What is making things worse is that we have carried out online behaviour into the real world. Or maybe our real world behaviour impacted online. We have all seen instances where if a person is being beaten up in public, crowd gathers and puts in a punch or two of their own.
All of this is leading to something scary in the future. Our behaviour is becoming increasingly violent. Almost like Wild West.
Imagine someday that finger will press the button that will lead to a holocaust. And it will never be a comsidered response. It will always be a result of a hysteria.
While the digital age has been good in many ways, it has also been responsible for many things going wrong in the world. It is very easy to start a rumour and then watch while the world burns. Because no one has the time of the attention span to verify facts. Journalism too unfortunately has fallen prey to this. From writing a well thought out piece in the newspaper to “news in 60 words” and trying hard to stay afloat, it prefers to show snippets of what was shot by an onlooker. It believes what started as a post on social media.
I guess we all need to pull ourselves back just a little bit. Get both sides of the story before forming an opinion. Count to 10 or maybe 100 before giving a response. It might, just might calm this world down.