“what wrong I did to be treated like this”

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” ?Hubert H. Humphrey

aish

“I am a normal girl and like most people I posted about an incident that bothered me on Facebook. I really want to know what wrong I did to be treated like this. I am traumatised by the whole situation” ? Aishwarya Subramanian

I can completely empathise with Aishwarya. What she is going through, both offline (that auto driver) and online (offshoot of her sharing the view) is terrible.

I won’t blame her for sharing her experience online either, as many people have alleged in the comments of her post, using that act to question her intent.

But, I do not understand this: “like most people I posted about an incident that bothered me on Facebook. I really want to know what wrong I did to be treated like this“.

What did she expect?

Overwhelming outpour of support?

Decent, civil debate on moral policing and slut shaming?

I’d expect a corporate communications professional to be slightly more cognizant of what goes on in social media.

Now, I won’t blame social media as a massive pool of shit or a stream of bile. It is not.

It is just us, people. It merely mirrors the offline version of us – the good, the bad, the ugly, the filthy, the disgusting… everything. The extra rider is that it,
a. offers an illusion of anonymity
b. lacks immediacy

Because of the illusion of anonymity, people assume they can say anything they want, at anybody, in any manner. The same people ‘may’ think twice to say the same thing in front of the person.

Lacking immediacy is a bigger problem and is not an illusion. It removes cause from effect and lets people just ‘leave’ a comment without bothering to see its impact. Or, the impact to be buried in a deluge of comments and counter-opinions.

So, the fact that the auto driver had an opinion on Aishwarya’s attire is much like a person leaving a comment on a Facebook post.

Aishwarya has 2 options.

a. Take it seriously and argue with the auto driver. Understand his perspective, and try to change his mindset. But, question is, is it worthwhile? How important is the auto driver in her life? I’d assume – zilch. He exercised his freedom of speech – unsolicited, at that – and Aishwarya had to endure that, unfortunately.

Now, read the quote from the beginning again:

“The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.” ?Hubert H. Humphrey

b. Ignore it as an idiot’s rant. Don’t give the auto driver any attention. Ask him to mind his own business and assume that this is the world we have to live in. Why? Because it is unsolicited and pointless in the first place. Plus, he is no one in her life, so why legitimize his point of view?

Instead, what really happened was that Aishwarya,

a. Took an auto driver’s unsolicited opinion seriously enough to be offended by it (Is it offensive? Of course, it is! Read that quote in the beginning – again).

b. Shared it as a social-shaming update on Facebook, as her own perspective on the incident. Two people exercised their freedom of expression here – the auto driver and Aishwarya. Because the latter expressed it on Facebook, hundreds of others exercised their freedom of expression too. Will all of them be supportive of one party? Not likely at all.

On the name-calling and severe abuse that ensued on Facebook and comments on places where the story was republished – yes, it can be traumatic. But what part of the abuse don’t we expect to happen?

Imagine… she got unsolicited feedback offline, by an auto driver who didn’t care whether he was being photographed or shamed online! Won’t it be worse online? By anonymous, random people living thousands of miles away?

Is that abuse wrong? Absolutely. It is ghastly and despicable. But… read the opening quote again.

The trouble is when anonymous online nonsense travels to offline and near. That is dangerous and needs not only to be called out, but also aptly handled with the cops.

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