Everything has its negative and positive sides. Be it eating chocolates, chips or consuming cigarettes, drugs, soft drinks or alcohol. The negative side-effects usually are seen with excessive consumption. The same can be said about watching television, using cell phones or even surfing the internet. Following the social media revolution many find themselves addicted to this form of networking. And things have started getting out of hand for many…

It’s almost been a decade that Facebook became part of our lives and since then many trends have taken multiple turns. People have started going ‘virtual’ with their businesses. People have met not only their long lost relatives, through Facebook, but also those from their business community or those who share their interests.

About five years ago we saw how the uprising in the Middle East was orchestrated by social media, when people came out demanding their rights. Social media became the main medium of communication. From then onwards social media, especially Twitter, has become a powerful tool for exchange of ideas.

But with power there exists its misuse on the flipside. People use these forums to spoil lives too. Where people usually used to enjoy these media for relaxing and communicating with friends and family, recently Facebook particularly has changed. It has become more of a battlefield where almost everyone seems to be waging a war against one another over flimsiest pretexts.

Politics and religion have become the only debates people indulge in, which makes them intolerant and threatens those who do not subscribe to particular ideas. Social media warriors forget the realities of life and politics. It is easy to press a few keys on the keyboard and be done with your so called responsibility, but actually getting down on ground is a hard task. Such forums have brought a clear divide in society, with labels such as liberals, fanatics, leftist, rightists, being flaunted about amidst silent observers.

If you comment on a post that you do not agree with, you are targeted by people who don’t support your views. Only the lucky few may be totally ignored. In case one is a political worker, you will be trolled by your rivals. This is particularly true for the supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – I wish Imran Khan had actually taught his supporters how to behave, as their parents have clearly failed.

The so-called liberals are no better. If you don’t support democracy or support the military they will make sure that it is shoved in your face time and time again. The moment you voice something against the politicians’ deeds, they will start haranguing you unnecessarily.

Agreeing to disagree is a lost art that seemingly is not applicable in Pakistan, especially on social media. Those who react strongly to Israeli and Indian torture in Palestine and Kashmir, have no spine to even step out of the door when minorities are being targeted within Pakistan. When you ask them why they do not join the freedom fighters instead of being a nuisance on social media, they give you the lame excuse of being the only son, or bread earner.

Tougher time is faced by people when you look at the religious context. Speak against the mullahs, Taliban, or speak for women rights and invite humiliation. I know many people who do not speak their mind due to the fear of radicals.

Just imagine; we have reached a point where people are scared of speaking their mind out even in the virtual world. No one wants to get threats, be attacked with acid, molested or killed.

Interestingly these same people preaching Islam, jihad and religion, are found sending friend requests to girls through fake IDs. The more audacious even dare to send requests with their actual IDs. When you check their profiles, their display pictures, cover photos and even the walls are full of Islamic posts, where they preach how women should live and behave.

Marvi Sirmed, Sabeen Mahmud, and many others – both men and women – have been seen to be harassed by people who do not agree with them. A close friend was recently harassed and had his picture and life events (taken from Facebook) posted on various pages with derogatory insinuations, just because the harassers did not agree with his opinions.

Why?

How would these people feel if the same happened to their family members? Sabeen Mahmud lost her life after being harassed on social media and speaking her mind out.

Why again? What Islam are these people following? Which Jinnah are they following? Many even quote his 11 August speech, about making the new nation a tolerant society, while depicting all the intolerance in the world.

But the rot gets deeper, the slide continues unabated, the flood of intolerance, bigotry, seems poised to drown rational debate. We are forced to ask the question: have we failed as humans or have we lost the “Pak” in Pakistan?