During the last nearly a decade now it all began with the aftermath of 911 the mother lode of all terrorist attacks. Few words that have become a household name on every global citizen's lips are Taliban, threat to Islam, Jihadi, Terrorist, Mujahedeen, fundamentalist, Hindu and Christian radicals, secularism and last but not the least, fatwa. The most recent addition to this is ISIS. I am sure there are many more that may have escaped my attention but the objective of this bouquet of views is not to indulge in their study, origin or semantics.
Their usage (the words stated above) can be heard in all kinds of environments:
Political waterfronts where opposition parties are going through the sham motions of bipartisan support to the ruling party's call of the hour to fight a progressive menacing creature called terrorism;
Policies being adopted in boardrooms where global corporate strategies are being discussed factoring in the alleged terror threat to their institutions and their corporate survival. A new breed of specialists with geo-political analytical skills have mushroomed advising anxious governments and corporates;
Arm chair discussions over firangi spirits by inebriated pseudo intellectuals blaming everybody but themselves about the present endangered state of the nation, state, city, mohallah stemming from the current morass of terrorist activities; and,
Eateries, beer bars and local hangouts where main street citizens are indulging in the why, when and how discussions and all participating voluntarily in a game called name the next terrorist's target.
For a celestial being observing all of this from the outside far above from the heavenly clouds, this must unfold like a very colorful earthly tamasha. The proliferation and popularity of the words stated above has been single-handedly brought about by the print and electronic media by their constant almost robotic and metamorphic use. Unfortunately it has become part and parcel of their daily rhetoric and rabble rousing.
We citizens sub-consciously have gotten so used to watching and reading about terror that withdrawal symptoms get initiated if we do not get to see or read our daily dose (almost like our daal, roti, subzi) of violence. Unknowingly all of us in a way have become echo chambers of the media.
I am willing to enter into a small wager and am confident that a lot of newspaper and TV news channel subscriptions would get cancelled if for a few months, as a simple exercise and behavioural experiment, violence was pulled off from their content menu voluntarily.
Their zeal to enhance their readership, footprint, what have you and in the process increase their TRP and other ratings has taken precedence over anything else. Nothing else really matters. In a manner they are no better than the so called Jihadi mercenaries.
The media have knowingly and systematically with utter disregard to the social responsibility role that they are supposed to adorn have used the dissemination and spread of the virus called terrorism information to the hilt. This allows them to achieve their dual objective of maximizing their organization's revenues and keep their viewers and readers truly fixated and mesmerized in a domain of deemed terror. A daily dose of terror news has become the new mantra for most of us. The high, naÃ¯ve readers and viewers gets from this new drug puts other substances to shame.
This glorification of notoriety then naturally allows them to increase their media tariff and enhance their revenues by glorifying suffering under the garb of them being the self-appointed sentinels of the citizenry and watchdogs of liberty. The media I am sure are fully aware that they are causing more harm than good by the constant regular blowing out of proportion reporting on terrorist incidents and activities that are taking place all over the worlds. Governments globally are turning a Nelson eye to this because it suits them to keep their citizens under a constant state of worry and thus making them more gullible and pliable.
In a way they are sending the wrong signals to the perpetrators that commit these heinous crimes. Giving more coverage than necessary is only bringing about empowerment and making the terrorist groups more daring and bold. And why not, their emissaries, the incorrigible media are their front runners always eagerly announcing their arrival and pitching for them in every home. The leaders of the terror cells have almost achieved iconic status and or at least the media would have us believe so.
I am not by any stretch of imagination suggesting that terrorist acts should go unreported. All I am advocating is that restraint, sensitivity, responsibility and the principle of "In the larger interest of the community" be adopted so that a balanced view is taken before reporting and not indulge in utter garbage sensationalism.
Taliban one hundred kilometers from Lahore and just 250 kilometers from India was screaming recently as breaking news headlines constantly flogged by an Indian TV news channel. I sometimes wonder whether the electronic hardware, if they had feelings, would also start displaying apathy and the Malthusian Law of Diminishing Returns would exhibit its applicability in this domain also.