Social Media

Speculation doing the rounds is that social media- Facebook, Whatsapp and You Tube- might be barred in Kashmir for a certain period. The administration, it is believed, is mulling this step in view of “security considerations”. Social media is not just a connectivity tool; it is a platform for self expression, views on politics, society, culture and n number of issues and themes, for both individuals and groups. Another salient feature of social media is that it allows for anonymity which, in turn, allows for the “unconscious” of people to spill on over to various social media platforms. What people might not say or express in a face to face conversation or interaction, they can say on the platforms of social media. These are the features or even attributes of social media, in general. What would ban of this medium mean? On the face of it, banning social media would allow the state to squelch communication between individuals or perhaps even groups. It would also mean and entail circumventing a blanket ban on the internet. But, in the final analysis, denying communication and squelching it even though in a modified or tweaked form amounts to tinkering with freedom of expression. Moreover, this is a measure that will do nothing to change or alter underlying realities. These realities pertain to the conflict in and over Kashmir. Over a period of time the conflict within has acquired a sharp edge and has become deeper and wider, assuming proportions that do not lend themselves to the state’s default reflex of containment. Given this reality, the “prospective” ban on social media might serve the state’s instrumentalities but it will constitute another technique of power or even control. Kashmir or more accurately , the youth of Kashmir- the audience in mind for the putative or prospective ban- does not need or want prophylactic measures and means of control.  What they need is a conflict free ambiance and environment where creative self expression becomes free and costless. This ambiance can be achieved once and perhaps only when the nettle of conflict resolution is grasped and a paradigm instituted that sates all stakeholders to the conflict in and over Kashmir. What is needed is a bold and beautiful paradigm that smells of roses- the kind whose benefits redound to all stakeholders in the conflict- not mere “palliatives” that can buy a lease of life to some at the expense of prolonging the conflict.