The perils of “forwarding”


Most of the “forwards” on social media are a menace. They are divisive and meant to stir up trouble. We need to be sensible and responsible while dealing with messages that have abuse of propaganda written all over them, counsels Rashmi Oberoi.

There are days when you end up getting so many ‘forwards’ that you are forced to just click the delete button in annoyance and in one swift move get rid of a whole lot of trash. Well most forwards are as good as ‘garbage’ and some are even worse that shouldn’t even be given a few seconds of significance but unfortunately end up being given undue importance and this leads me to my point that needs immediate attention.
My sincere advice: Please check the contents of any message that you receive before you hit that ‘forward’ button. Earlier, ‘forward messages’ floating around were restricted to receiving them via email but now you get them via SMSes, WhatsApp, Signal — social media platforms etc. I agree that social networking sites and services have their charm and importance but they also have a sinister side to them with harmful effects.

I have read forwards that are so full of absolute gobbledygook. Half-truths and ramblings of dimwits! The worst are the ones that instil or stir-up communal hatred, anti-national feelings and religious tensions. Emotions get triggered in a negative manner leading to hostility.

Recently my cousin was sent a forward on WhatsApp through a group made up of friends and acquaintances. It was communal and full of lies that upset her no end. On questioning the person who had sent it as well as updating the group on such falsehood being circulated, she was told the message was forwarded without even reading it! That is being patently irresponsible and one should be held accountable for disseminating incorrect information.

I have been sent forwards and messages and videos through family and friends just to enlighten me and point out on the kind of recklessness and blasphemy that circulates. A sensible and intelligent person may ignore but majority don’t. Imagine the havoc such colossal spread of wrong information could cause.

Issues get blown out of proportion and escalate into needless fracas. The most hazardous are those that ignite communal passions. Portraying Hindus as hating other religions, the frenzy of ‘Love Jihad’, the paranoia about all Muslims being supporters of terrorism and Christians forcing conversions are some striking examples.

This is a collective responsibility. Each one of us has to ensure that the social media does not become a platform for abuse and propaganda. Any propensity towards such divisive thinking should be nipped in the bud. It is not an impossible task if we employ our good conscience.

Rashmi Oberoi

Rashmi Oberoi, an army officer`s daughter is passionate about writing and has authored two story books for children – My Friends At Sonnenshine and Cherie:The Cocker Spaniel.