ABUSE OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND INTERNET – BOIS LOCKER ROOM

When the whole world and the nation are fighting against Covid-19, the news item on 3rd May, ‘Bois Locker Room’ came as a shocker to everyone. It is an Instagram group where boys from some of the top schools of the National Capital posted photographs of fellow girl-students with offensive sexual comments and discussed plans to gang-rape them. Luckily, their weird game plan came to an abrupt end when the cyber cell of police got wind of it and arrested some of the ‘villains’.

 

What comes out of the whole episode is the sick mindset with which our young generation is growing up. The misogynic comments exchanged among the Instagram group members is a pointer to their mentality of objectifying female bodies, an extremely dangerous development. They are falling prey to a ‘rape culture’ being witnessed around them. They have not imbibed the value of gender equality and respect for their female counterparts. They are inclined to indulge in sexual violence instead of seeing girls on equal pedestal.

While the controversy goes on, the ‘locker room’ episode should open the eyes of both parents and school authorities. Here is an attempt to see some of the root causes of this perverted mindset and the sickening behaviour in a section of our school kids. It appears that today’s children are intellectually superior, but emotionally immature. The reasons for this immaturity and delinquent behaviour can be traced to the family, school, society and social media.

Family is the basic and the best school for the formation of a child. Family experience gives children their basic formation, both positive and negative, during the initial period. Parents are role models to their kids. The development of intellectual, emotional, psychological and moral formation takes place in the family. Depending on the atmosphere, it can be positive, mature, integrated and balanced or it can be negative and filled with anger, pugnacity, maliciousness, fear, tension, maladjustment, mental health hazards, personality adjustment and sexual perverseness.

If the schools are only worried about their reputation and academic achievement, it can downplay the importance of character formation, value education and discipline. This will affect the overall growth of the child and the well-being of the society at large. If a school works only for money, fame and name, then the moral and psychological development of the child will be hampered. When a school encourages competition rather than collaboration and team work, it is bound to make the children undisciplined and inhuman.

Children learn a lot from the society in which they live. Several studies have highlighted the influence of environment on kids and their formation. Many children grow as delinquent and engage in anti-social behaviour. They steal from others, damage property and commit other heinous offences such as murder, sexual misconduct and abuse. The use of internet and social media for sexual misconduct, pornography, morphing pictures, etc., also comes under delinquent behaviour.

According to Swami Vivekananda, neglect of holistic education could be the reason for the increasing crimes among the students. Swami Vivekananda said, “We need an education that builds character, increases strength of mind, expands intellect and equips a person to stand on his/her own feet”. Building character means imbibing ethical and human values and expansion of mind stands for the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong and make correct choices in life. If the students imbibe core values and learn to distinguish between right and wrong, they will not indulge in serious crimes as committed by the members of Bois Locker Room Instagram group.

Mahatma Gandhi wrote about the Seven Deadly Social Sins. One of them is ‘Knowledge without Character’. The other social sins are Politics without principles, Wealth without work, Pleasure without conscience, Commerce without morality and Science without humanity.

According to Anuradha Shankar, IPS said, “Knowledge is not information; rather, knowledge is information that is verified, analysed and justified.” She further explained that in the absence of character, knowledge could be misused and abused. Using nuclear energy for making nuclear bombs to kill innocent people is abuse of knowledge. In fact, nuclear energy was invented for using it for peaceful purposes as an alternative source of energy. Knowledge may help human beings to analyse problem, but to find solution they need character.

Today’s young generation, especially those in cities and urban areas, are victims of loneliness. They may be financially well off but many of them are utterly poor in human and social values. Apartment life also has its impact on children and when parents are out working, kids are most likely to be alone at home. This leads them to engage with the internet or social media excessively.

Children are too much dependent on the internet and social media. WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are their primary source of knowledge and entertainment. As a result, already shrinking family ties and interactions are fading very fast. The increased number of schoolchildren, especially teenagers, committing suicide is an eye-opener for all. Many of them are growing in a money-oriented, selfish, immoral, violent and hateful environment, unmindful of their duties towards their parents, fellow beings, society and nature. In addition to this, there are increased incidents of gang rapes, ragging and violence, combined with rumour-mongering and spreading of fake news.

When parents are busy with work, their concerns can often be limited to earning more money than nourishing their kids with good values and love. They provide latest gadgets like laptops and smart phones to keep their kids happy and justify it by saying it is needed to keep in touch with them. But children are not taught about the danger of it at home or school. They make excessive use of their gadgets by chatting with their peers and friends. Incidents of misuse of cameras for nefarious activities are frequently reported all over the country. Responsible internet usage is the key to prevent a repeat of ‘locker rooms’. The operators of social media groups like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Snapchat should develop some inbuilt mechanism which would not promote sexual violence and exploitation of women. Social media platforms cannot wash their hands of the misuse of the technology. Otherwise, incidents like Bois Locker Room will be on the rise.

The boys who are the members of Instagram group, Bois Locker Room, have the knowledge of science and mathematics and they know how to make use of the latest information communication technology; but they abused it to exploit and harm their own class mates because the education they received from the elite schools did not prepare them how to use technology for the well-being of humanity. Their parents and teachers also seem to have failed to train them how to become human. In this context it is pertinent to remember what Martin Luther King Jr. said, “This is a world with guided missiles and misguided men”.

(John Parankimalil, PhD. The writer is the Director of Don Bosco Institute of Management. He can be contacted through his email: jparankimalil@gmail.com)

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