Get Those Facebook Girls!

Is the media as much to blame as the Sainiks in persecuting the two girls in Mumbai?

ByKavita Puri Arora
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We live in a socially aware world. If you are not on Facebook – you’re nobody. Today, your Facebook profile is what ticks and makes or breaks your social status. Acts of posting, poking, updating and tagging have replaced the age-old traditions of calling, writing, meeting – and in some cases, even dating. Your Facebook “timeline” is your very own 2D trailer to the motion picture called your life.

Is it any wonder then that in the wake of impending global calamities and a local movie-style shootout, the one thing that has caught maximum media attention and hit it big in the world of so called 24X7 news is a 21-year-old’s Facebook update?

Not surprising. But still, appalling.

At 21, I can vote, drive, marry, give birth, fight in the Army, fly a plane – but I can’t be trusted to update my Facebook status. Very soon there will come a time when signing up for Facebook will require you to submit a bunch of certificates: address proof, age proof, sex proof (maybe the UID can make this process slightly simpler), as well as sign an undertaking – thou shall not mention anything political, hysterical, sensational or even remotely thoughtful in your updates… and the list will be so long that my husband’s life-long wish of terrorising the world with his potty humour will come true because that might be the only thing you can freely write about.

The fear of Shiv Sainiks banging on my door surrounds me (even sitting here in Delhi) as I write this. But the fact of the matter is that it was plain and simple ridiculous, and the two girls should not have been penalised for updating their status.

But what is worse is the fact that some newspapers and TV channels were trying to, and have now interviewed those two unfortunate souls. Overnight, we have gone from describing them as “two girls” to naming them and dragging out from their closet any lurking skeletons. As if it wasn’t enough that they were dragged to a Police Station at 10 pm only to be released at 2.45 am, the media is now giving the Shiv Sainiks a hand in their foolhardiness. Should the media not have protected their identity which then might have been incentive enough for like-minded youth to continue tugging at the leftover threads of their fundamental “right of freedom”, which by the way includes “freedom of speech”?

The news flashing now reads – 9 vandals arrested. But having a Facebook account is obviously a bigger crime than vandalising an innocent man’s clinic. Thanks to our slipshod media, the girls have been named, faced and booked. The vandals and Shiv Sainiks however don’t make an interesting enough story, and will continue to enjoy their privacy. Unlike the girls, they’ve only been booked but not faced.

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Complaining about the media is easy and often justified. But hey, it’s the model that’s flawed.

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