The year 2016 was a terrible year. In so many ways. But all that was nasty with 2016, all that was wrong, all that made it one of worst years in recent times, was amplified by social media. It was as if collectively all social media users switched off their grey cells and just shouted and shouted, incoherently, into the great virtual void, which somehow ended up echoing in the real world. It is impossible to pinpoint exact impact that social media had in 2016 on the world. Some say it helped Trump win because Facebook users liked and spread sensational fake news. Some say it led to many fake outrage over many things that weren’t just true at all. How much of that was superfluous and how much real is something experts will talk about for years to come. But there is no doubt that social media users acted and behaved rather dumbly in 2016.
People just lost all sense of rationality on their Facebook pages, in their WhatsApp groups and on Twitter. They liked, shared and reshared everything that fit in their make-believe narrative, even if it was senseless, illogical, impossible or just plain dumb. Imagine just how many shared, and totally believed, that the new Rs 2,000 note had a GPS chip embedded in it. It was preposterous that a currency note can have a GPS chip in it. Yet, no one stopped to apply their minds. They saw it on their Facebook and they believed in it.
In fact, on social media people believed all sorts of wrong things. If someone posted replica of a dinosaur with Steven Spielberg posing in front of it, people believed that a dinosaur had been killed. Many asked: “RIP dinosaur, what kind of monster people will kill it?”. Although this happened in 2014, the year 2016 was no different. Last year the collective stupidity of the social media horde was at an altogether different level. And this was exploited well by those who sought to create some ruckus. Photos that belonged to someplace else were shared to represent something else, in most cases riots, terrorist attack, war scene etc. People were killed and then resurrected again on Facebook and Twitter. Through WhatsApp ludicrous messages were shared widely. It was all so very terrible.
This made the year 2016 messier than it actually was. In a world where a lot of things are going wrong, if suddenly there is also an oversupply of stupidity, it just makes the whole picture look particularly nasty. And this, let’s hope, is something that for the sake of all of us social media users will avoid this year. Maybe in 2017, they can stop being stupid and start acting rationally, just the way they do in the real world. It’s not that people are not smart. In the actual world, they are quite smart. But on Facebook, in WhatsApp groups, on Twitter, somehow the reason takes the backseat. Let’s hope it changes in 2017.
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