One of the blessings of social media is the opportunity it provides to connect with people whom you may never have known otherwise. When terms like ‘friend’ and ‘follower’ are used to refer to people we connect with, they acquire new meanings. Long years ago Henry David Thoreau wrote that the language of friendship is not words but meanings.
Social media being what it is, one has to be prepared at all times for unhappy encounters. Facebook and other platforms have placed at the disposal of users tools with which they can control their environment. They enable us to unfriend and block those whose company we do not cherish. I have used these tools to keep out of my turf those whom I found undesirable or insufferable.
Users can also draw the attention of the social media forums to any improper content and, if satisfied that the complaint is justified, they remove the inappropriate stuff. I have not used this facility so far.
One of the pitfalls of social media is the presence of organized groups who go beyond the legitimate activity of promoting ideas dear to them and malign and abuse those who do not agree with them. Many political propagandists are immature and some are upstarts. They probably do more harm than good to the cause they believe they are serving.
Happily, there are also committed persons who endeavour to run clean campaigns. In my circle, there are two of that kind whose friendship I value for that very reason: Shailesh Gopinath, who promotes the interests of the BJP, and Sabu Hameed, who champions the cause of the CPI-M.
I have not had the opportunity to meet either of them. From their social media profiles I gather they both live in Bangalore. But, judging by the location info on FB, Shailesh appears to be constantly on the move. His interests extend to real estate, trading and agriculture.
In a post from Manama, Bahrain, Shailesh Gopinath asks why there should be a general strike in Kerala, “which has no good private industry”, when there is none in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka which have many industries. He then enumerates five changes the Modi government has made in the labour laws and justifies them.
Sabu Hameed reproduces the Deshabhimani report in the general strike with the headline “Kerala stands still” and exhorts the working people to “organize boldly and fight for their rights... react against exploitation”.
Sabu Hameed provides very little personal info about himself but I believe he is an IT professional.
Kerala’s Santosh Trophy win must be one of the few recent occasions when both Sabu and Shailesh rejoiced.
Shailesh and Sabu are strong in their conviction and passionate in the espousal of their politics but stick to path of fair discourse. There have been occasions when friends, including myself, tried to confront them with facts that do not go well with their beliefs. On such occasions, with the courage of conviction they have held their ground.
May their tribe increase.
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine