Hate in the times of social media

Pic courtesy: Manoj Shinde

It had been three hours after their last chat on iMessage. He had kept an eye on her WhatsApp activity. On an average, she was checking it every 15 minutes. Instagram and Snapchat were idle. However, she was retweeting news. When he fired up his Facebook account, she was online. He, too, stayed online hoping to see a shift in her activity. ‘Maybe, she will hit like on something’. ‘Maybe, she will go offline after surfing’. ‘Maybe, she is watching some videos’. Another 15 minutes passed by and she was still online. A frenzy of annoying questions raced in his mind.

Who is she talking to?

What is she doing?

Is she flirting?

Is she engaged in an interesting conversation with someone other than me?

I have had the last of this.

Millennials have learned the art of stalking on social media. Hatred spills out of it consequentially. Any uploads, reactions, thoughts or activities that are pushed on these platforms, create a space for doubt and anger.

When we see our friends enjoying with others, we conclude that they do not care about us, since they forgot to include us. Also, the fact that our partners have a life outside the lovey-dovey shell, irritates and depresses us to the extent that the mind zooms forward with irrational thoughts. We feel that the relationships are over and our friends, who once came to the doorstep just to check on our well-being, have grown wary.

The disappointment sparks several kinds of hatred — loathing, self-doubt, shaming, trolling, blackmailing and even crimes.

For instance, on June 2, mirror.co.uk in its article, Mafia boss’s son ‘gunned down best pal’ who ‘liked’ a Facebook picture of his girlfriend, told the gruesome story of how 15-year-old Alex Pititto, the son of ‘Ndrangheta mafia boss Salvatore Pititto, known as ‘El Tio’, or the Uncle killed his 19-year-old friend over a social media gesture.

Why, you ask?

The teenage mobster had always suspected that his friend harboured feelings for his girlfriend, Francesco Prestia. When she liked one of his pictures on Facebook, the gangster’s hatred knew no limits. He called his friend to a remote field and gunned him down.

Hatred cost a life and that too, over a petty insecurity, which is also the root of friendships and relationships hitting a roadblock. Above all, it damages the mental health.

A friend confided in me the other day that she hates seeing her best friend getting along a “little too well” with other. I had to ask her if she was in love. Over a couple of drinks and long phone calls, I understood the complexities of the bond they shared. It was justified for her to feel jealous, for any kind of love is a heavy feeling.

My friend loved her best friend to an extent that she would not imagine even confronting him, for it might lead to a tricky situation. So, she resorted to self-loathing. She spent hours clearing her mind space, thinking positive, doing what she liked; but at the end of the day, she sulked.

Why had it happened in the first place?

It is because we know a little too much about each other’s lives through “surprise” updates that most of the times make you feel left out. And, when these situations repeat, we feel more left out, we sulk and end up being angry.

Questions like, am I not worth my friend’s company? Are my friends this happy when they are with me? Have they had enough? end up munching on sanity. We sort of take a trip into a bottled-down existential crisis (a term that we have hammered down to casual references). But, then, it really affects well-being.

I have experienced this first hand. My friends (repeat — friends and not anybody else) broke my heart by excluding me from major events last year. A good friend of mine walked out from my life and another one, I feel, has come to dislike me. These were the set of friends I was experiencing a city with, which is not my home. I have had the best moments — big and small — that make my composite sanity and emotional health.

When I realised that they were swaying away, I felt vulnerable. I was trying to put a smile on my face and wade through the situation. But, I had come to hate the circumstances. I had taken to hating myself so much so, that I wanted to change the city, start afresh, away from the brunt of the past.

Before I could put this wisdom into motion, this friend, whom I talk on Facebook, made me believe that this was not a situation for which I should utter the word hate. I told her how I was left out and that I generally feel devalued in life. She told me, “Take it casually. Abandon those, who abandon you.”

I told her it was not easy for me. I am naive and incapable of hating the ones I have loved. “I cannot lose certain friends, just because I am not a part of their life right now. We need to be compassionate and understand their situation,” I told her.

There I was with my solution. She sent me a wink for the understanding had at least absolved me of the anxiety.

At a time where hate is easy, we need compassion — not to dispense good, but as a quality that restrains us from self-pity. We need to be kind and understanding, before we assume and burn ourselves in wrath. People should do what they like and we should appreciate them for their growth. If at all a person is turning out to be toxic, remove him/her. Take a break. Unwind. Customise your “feed” to whatever you like. A little responsibility can keep this hatred in check.