Facebook Activism, and where it fails

I got published on the Express Tribune Blog: http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/6710/facebook-activism-and-where-it-fails

Facebook Activism, and where it fails

Today I was invited to a Facebook event called “18 Crore People demanding Zardari’s Resign – We Hate You. Leave Pakistan”. Thinking it was just another one of those inexhaustible Facebook invitations everyone keeps getting, I ignored it until I saw how many people were attending: The number was 55,321. And from the looks of it, the figure is growing.

Now I’m a strong proponent of freedom of political expression, but I feel that ensuing debates should actually be constructive. A mere expression of hatred and loathing for a leader with a gazillion ‘likes’ isn’t going to do anything to change the situation. What is more bothersome is that some of the literate, Facebook-clicking population of the country seems to think that indulging in a long tirade of expletives will be cathartic.

If you think that targeting all your fury and disgust towards one person on a Facebook wall is going to make things better, then type away. But, if you think that you can channel all this negative energy into something positive, then I strongly advise you take that road. As the intelligent youth of a country with a lot of potential, it is our responsibility to take the reins. Ask yourself if you’re fulfilling your individual responsibilities honestly. Remind yourself that taking that “tiny” peek for a test and plagiarizing that essay also makes you part of the system of dishonesty you’re criticizing arguably on a micro level.

Unfortunately today, our country is facing grave problems from a number of directions. But instead of looking for solutions and working collectively towards a common good, we have identified politicians as the face of all evil. PEW ratings show that our President’s approval ratings have plummeted to 11 per cent. But this face keeps changing. One day we chant slogans of “go Musharraf go,” another day we blame Imran Khan for his spineless politics – the list is endless. We as a nation have devised a system where we blame the man, but not what he represents. We think that changing the man will bring us change. But Pakistan is not a monarchy. The “leader” represents a system of corruption and fraud, and we are bearing the brunt of an entire structure that seems to face a chronic case. We are all guilty. Unless we change ourselves and work towards positive change, we will continue to be guilty of the same crime we criticize. We cannot absolve ourselves of all guilt, adopt a holier-than-thou attitude and continue to hold everyone but ourselves liable. It is time for national responsibility – and not just on Facebook.


12 Replies to “Facebook Activism, and where it fails”

  1. We as a nation have devised a system where we blame the man, but not what he represents. – I love that line.
    I actually had a really long discussion with Ahmed Marghoob and Sir Jamal about this and your post just reminded me of that whole debate.
    p.s. I got invited to that facebook event too. 😛

  2. i soo agree with you here.
    We’re obsessed with blaming others. Every failure we go through, as individuals or as a nation, s’long as we have someone to point, blame, critisize and ‘create facebook pages’ over, all’s good. -.-

  3. Agreed. As a nation, we are need to set merits to end this corruption. It is not that we are not enough capable but there are no rules or conditions for one to hold any office. I was shocked to see an electrical engineer(css officer) controlling renvue deparament of whole Gujranwala divisions.

  4. Facebook needs to translate into real-life activism, and this organization called Responsible Citizens – Zimmedar Shehri has been able to mobilize some people about environmental activism from Facebook. But again, while they translate their online activities into real-world practical work, they still face problems and the turnout in real life isn’t as much as the turnout on Facebook or social media…

    Btw Maha, please check your Twitter DMs (or Direct Messages) 🙂

    1. Thanks for commenting, Shemrez! Facebook’s a great tool, but it’s just that. Depends on how it’s used (for example “Causes” seem useless unless backed up by real-life action). I’m glad to hear that Zimmedar Shehri has been able to mobilize people through fb for their cause!

      I did, hope you got my replies :)!

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