In The Crèche Of ‘Cracy’ Again!
Once, Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (1889-1951) – the Austrian-British philosopher who worked primarily on logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of language – said: “Whereof one cannot speak thereof one must be silent.”
There is a story about Wittgenstein. After staying with him for nearly an hour, one of his students tried to get rid of the long-time silence by asking Wittgenstein something about the weather. The philosopher asked his student to keep his mouth shut, saying that “there was no need to talk”.
The flood of words on the social media, now-a-days, reminds us of Wittgenstein. The modern technology has facilitated the people with uninterrupted communication! Now, we can communicate with a number of people simultaneously, exchange our feelings with them and talk to them about ourselves (and vice versa). This fantastic opportunity was unthinkable even a few years ago. As a result, the social media are flooded with countless words and images.
We don’t need a Wittgenstein…. the overwhelming communications on the social media prompt (even) a common man to think about a serious question: Those who can speak so much about any issue – aren’t they capable of stating things that are meaningful?
One may argue that there is no tax on words, then what’s the loss?
In fact, there are too many losses. Firstly, the social media created an opportunity for us to exchange our views and opinions on various important issues. However, the issues have become irrelevant because of exchange of too much opinions. As per Gresham’s Law (in economics,) “bad money drives out the good“. Similarly, bad words force out the important one and the social media gives it a new dimension. Even if a person raises an important issue, his/her action fails to make any impact or the person gets trolled. In such a scenario, a person – who really wants to say something important – maintains silence. Isn’t it a loss?
There is a greater impact of this loss on the society. The social media have a great potential to promote modern democracy. Democracy is not about casting votes only, as it’s important for the people to exchange their views on different issues and to present their demands to the powerful people. These are the essential characteristics of a strong democracy.
However, the problem is that the modern states can’t practice the ‘Athenian Democracy’ or the ‘Direct Democracy’. For the modern states, the representatives-based ‘Indirect Democracy’ is the only option to run the political system.
The emergence of social media and their unprecedented expansion earlier this century brought hope that the people would run a democratic system and the system would work for the people in a true sense. Some expressed hope that the rulers would be forced to listen to the people after the flourish of the social media.
Slowly, the hope is dying and majority of the people have started believing that the growing popularity of social media will endanger democracy. Currently, the social media have a great impact on various important issues, including Donald Trump’s election as the US President and communal tensions in India. The mentality or mindset, which strengthens the power structure in our society, is dangerous! This mentality is not ready to think deeply on any important issue. Unfortunately, the social media nurture this mentality and provide it with the opportunity to suppress the important issues. This mass-ecstasy can’t be favourable for democracy.
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