The democratization of justice has only accelerated in the last two decades, and this owes to the increase in reach and widespread usage of technology. Nobody could have imagined fifteen years ago that our society would be so connected over the internet, yet so disconnected from the reality that the advent of social media and networking websites has had such a significant influence on the generation that grew with it.
Shunning and squelching voices is the opposite of what democracy is. But that is what is enabled to a great extent — most of us turn to social media to surround ourselves with people who agree with us oh-so-ardently in the face of evil. We use social media these days not only for news but also as a medium for entertainment, education and communication. And the best part is, you get to tailor your interface and feed — so you won’t ever have to leave your bed to learn things if you have an internet connection.
Interpersonal communication has become a less-preferred option; most people favor being anonymous so they can say all the twisted things at the back of their heads without any real-life repercussion. Media, technology, news and entertainment has had such an unprecedented toll on Gen-Z’s mental health — as is evident from the alarming number of posts on the internet on the collective depression and anxiety that young adults and teenagers go through in these times.
Aristotle Roufanis (b. 1983 Athens, Greece) is a London-based visual artist who works with patterns, textures and human attributes and interactions defined by conditions of urban life and architecture. His works deal with lapsed footage with post-processing and edits that range from 4–6 months on some of his works. Each of his projects invoke a particular emotion in the viewer. Alone Together (2017) is one of his recent works that initially got me to ponder on the meditative aspect of being comfortable in one’s own loneliness.
In the back of our heads, we have agendas that relate to our careers, personal growth and relationships, all of which gets skyrocketed to the frontal cortex, and before you know it, you are stuck again in your routine, with which you have a bittersweet relationship. Taking a moment to be grateful, to set an intention, to breathe after waking up could go a long way in holding on to one’s sanity, and to lay off the dopamine hits that we crave so much for. (I’m guilty of using my phone first thing in the morning for a few years now, and it is to no avail that I try to make myself realize that and try to change)
“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”
The key to conversations is simply the faculty to understand the other party. More often than not, the kind of attitudes you come across on social media is that of the “cancel culture”. And this has manifested itself in us subliminally, as we jump to conclusions, form opinions based on unclear information, and hasten to give our two cents on issues that are not based on our knowledge or resources. This in turn can be either constructive or the exact opposite, taking into account just how objectively a space that’s accessed with no restrictions can look at problems. We may deem numerous brands, institutions and celebrities to have no right to form opinions on certain issues, but that’s exactly what social media intended to achieve in the first place — everyone and anyone can have their say. It democratized a justice where what we think should be the truth and we go about our lives following and subscribing only to artists, organizations and channels that intrigue and push us just a little bit farther than the last, so that we can convince our consciences that we’re still “good guys”.
“We have to stop expecting to get offended,” Cassie Jaye says in her TED talk on her experience with a specific set of men’s rights activists, and how her biases made her instigate and frame the stories of the activists in a bad light. She addresses these, starting off and states the short-comings that she had herself realized of her past self. The technology we have at our fingertips comes with a certain responsibility. As much as we’d like to turn a blind eye to it, reading this article means that you are privileged enough to open it up on your phone/desktop and to have an internet connection. You are an opinion leader. From your close friend to your most distant relative, anyone may come across a view that you put out on something, which then becomes the ultimate truth on which they base their opinion of you. The same way, your followers read and process your messages just like you do with your favourite author on Twitter.
What is easier, is to feign indifference to the kind of impact you have on other people. Your following matters, the message you seek to profess to the world matters and your voice matters. The way you tell your story is up to you- be it through art, business, the sciences or the social sciences. But it’s just as important as the next. The world needs involvement and it needs critical thinking. It requires expression and the faculty to be empathetic in the face of diversity. So pick up your pitchforks and torches, if you subscribe to that non-violent mantra, and move towards the life that you were promised.