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.