The act of sharing unconfirmed and unauthentic misinformation is ugly and devastating
A smart phone and a finger click is all you need to create a virtual domino effect. After all, a click has no legs to stand on. One click leads to another. And thereby our fingers are conditioned to share, without care or fear, allowing traveling far and near, affecting every single and every pair.
To add to the existing woes of epidemics, we have the scare of infodemics. Besides the danger of pathogen, we have the derringer of misinformation. While some do it purposely, to some, it is recreation. While some do it out of intention, to some, it is like invention.
The luring and tempting entices of rumour-mongering and easy access to actually doing it have resulted in its widespread and prevalence. William Shakespeare in Henry IV part 2 wrote:
“Rumour is a pipe
Blown by surmises, jealousies, conjectures
And of so easy and so plain a stop
That the blunt monster with uncounted heads,
The still-discordant wavering multitude,
Can play upon it.”
Be it religious, be it ethical; be it scientific, be it humanistic; be it empirical, be it observational- from whatever point of view we view, the act of sharing unconfirmed and unauthentic misinformation is ugly and devastating. It is damaging and destroying. It is devouring and endangering. It is putting calm at risk and order in jeopardy. It deserves contempt and condemnation.
Call it "improvised news" or "stories of perceived importance that lack substantial evidence", a rumour is not less harmful than a tumour that has the potential of enlargement and growth, the possibility of being carcinogenic and the danger of wreaking havoc and rampage. And a rumour travels and has speed that thrills, but kills. In his novel, “the Chalk Man”, the British author, C. J. Tudor wrote, “Rumors are like germs. They spread and multiply almost in a breath and before you know it, everyone is contaminated.”
History is witness to a plethora of concocted, fabricated, made-up, misquoted and spun tidings that culminated into substantial losses or beyond-repair ramifications. And our recent local history bears witness to a number of mistakes we have already committed. The rumour of the death of children by polio vaccine in 2016 and numerous under-researched published articles in newspapers are just the tips of the iceberg. It shows the ugly and deteriorating face of our society. The Indonesian author of "Master of Stupidity", Tobago Beta writes in “Betelgeuse Incident”, “If humour and rumour are needed more than faith and truth, then it tells me something about the kind of world we live today.”
Be it attributing couplets and quatrains to poets of choice, or be it leveling false allegations; be it hiding a little, or be it exaggerating beyond bounds, spreading irresponsibly and indiscriminately results not only in the creation of false hopes or panic, but it also renders us corrupt and untrustworthy.
Irrespective of the quantum of rumour, the extent of its spread and ubiquity of its existence, it can never attain the status of truth. Beyond doubt is the supremacy of truth over falsehood, heresy and tell-tales.
“A rumor thrives in the palace of uncertainty but dies in the corridors of truth”.
But for us, it is a matter that calls forth extreme caution and meticulous deliberation.Passing on falsehood and being a propagator of a lie is akin to demean oneself in the sight of Allah(SWT) and it is likely to do more harm than any good. Allah (SWT) says in the Holy Quran, “O you who believe! If a Faasiq (liar/evil person) comes to you with any news, verify it, lest you should harm people in ignorance, and afterwards you become regretful for what you have done.” (49:6)
In an authentic report, (Sahih Muslim, Hadith no.11), the Prophet (Peace and blessings of Allah (SWT) be upon him) is reported to have warned us that "It is sufficient lying for a man to speak of everything he hears."
(Author is Assistant Professor, GDC Sopore)