Keyboard warriorsSocial media should be used for holding constructive debates and not belittling others
Progenies of the Gurkhas that we are, we seldom resisted when it came to resolving issues by war and taking a stand on patriotic issues. Since the emergence of social media in Nepal, the nuances of the basic elements of war and patriotism have changed among Nepali netizens. Today, war is predominantly fought on social media. The iconic khukuri has been superseded by keyboards and gadgets. The desire to trend has worryingly prevailed over patriotic aspirations. More time is allotted to protecting and ameliorating the social media image than resolving societal issues.
Even if we conduct multiple studies of social media profiles, it will be difficult to find the once common unparalleled love for the nation. The most likely thing that we will find is fleeting rage and sadists. And that’s not because Nepali netizens don’t care for their country, it’s because they are drawn to platforms which are detrimental to nationalism.
Social media users
As per the stats produced by the Internet Live Stats in 2016, the number of social media users in Nepal has doubled since 2011. If we scrutinise the usage pattern of Nepali netizens, we will find users suffering from a social media epidemic. This social media epidemic is widely known as ‘keyboard warrior syndrome’.
A keyboard warrior is someone who exhibits dark triad tendencies in his or her social media posts. Dark triad refers to three kinds of personality traits: narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. In other words, a keyboard warrior is someone who gains gratification by baleful trolling, abusing and slaughtering others on social media. Keyboard warriors love to vex users in the comments section. In doing so, they acquire the attention they crave in real life. They also accomplish satisfaction and an illusion of higher status and escalated self-worth.
The keyboard warrior syndrome is perilous to any nation, even more so in our context. Discourses related to religious intolerance, regional disparity, hate crime, civil war, cross-border conflict, political turmoil and foreign employment are always a hot topic among Nepali netizens. Keyboard warriors take colossal pride and patriotic contentment in speaking out on these matters. Little do they know that they are exhibiting chauvinism and sectarianism. Moreover, showcasing such blatant sadism on social networks has a cosmic footprint on other users. As a consequence, other users also develop an urge to put forward their opinions.
And when the users are done with their rage on social media, they are emotionally drained. Sadly, their passion and enthusiasm for contributing to public good and social welfare also fades. People get closer to becoming keyboard warriors while their patriotic and optimistic version starts dying.
When we dwell on the contents of the comment sections on social media, the scenario looks gloomy. When you are done reading those comments, the only thing you wish for is to get those precious minutes back. The contents are stocked with prejudice and hate which are demeaning to our rich diversity of caste, class, religion, culture and ethnicity. Such contents act as a propellant for hatred and pessimism. It gives everyone a false impression that Nepal is intolerant. A dark cloud of hopelessness regarding the future of the nation hovers over everyone. It won’t be an overstatement to claim that such gloominess is one of the major psychological factors urging youths to go abroad. There couldn’t be a worse scenario for an underdeveloped country where a majority of its youths harbour an American or Australian dream.
The keyboard warrior syndrome is a social media problem today that needs to addressed and mitigated. Keyboard warriors have failed to comprehend the extent they have gone to for mere likes. And we have failed to comprehend the cost which our country has to bear due to disoriented netizens. Social media was meant to be used to facilitate good societal relationships. It was meant to be used for saving lives, sharing knowledge, mobilising public opinion and so forth. But we seem to have overlooked even the fundamental obligations of a responsible citizen. It’s high time we stopped squandering our zeal over social media and start unravelling social transgressions.
Now is the time to stop hiding behind the mask of anonymity and discuss issues along with their solutions. Now is the time to move ahead and stop saying that Buddha was born in Nepal and try to follow his teachings. Now is the time to avoid chatting, posting or commenting like a chauvinistic halfwit and rightfully act like a patriotic person. Now is the time to comprehend that being a keyboard warrior is demeaning to our preceding generation who proudly exhibited the epitome of patriotism and faith. Now is the time we stopped blaming the government on social media for everything and reflect on what John F Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.”
Bam is a senior software engineer at Booleant Services