The Online Mob Mentality in India

One of the biggest challenges the collective society faces at the moment is the mob mentality. In its simplest terms, mob mentality means a group of people who join together to show their strength in numbers for the wrong reasons[i]. If we take the examples of history, the mob mentality is the reason why the Nazis rose to power in Germany. It is also the reason for numerous riots, wars, clashes and so on. In the 21st century, the mentality has infected the internet like a plague.

India is no stranger to mob mentality with numerous religious and ethnic strife’s, ideological strife’s, caste strife’s, authority-public strife’s and so on. The mob mentality played a huge role in it and it is the reason why the society is often times divided. And now in the internet era, the mob mentality has affected thousands if not millions of people through witch hunt, online harassment, cancel culture, social and TV media trials, bhedchaal and outrage culture[ii].

To understand more about the mob mentality, let me give you an example of Kpop fanbase. Kpop fanbase is the collective of people who follow the idols of Korean Pop Music[iii]. And with Kpop bands like BTS and Black Pink becoming mainstream, it created a huge cult of the following which is fine. The problem is, they are one of the most toxic fanbases on the internet and god forbid if anyone has different opinion regarding their idols or has different taste in music. The fanbase just attack people ruthlessly on the internet through cancel culture and because of this, their behavior has been critiqued by a lot of people[iv].

Now that I have talked about the example of mob mentality of the internet, let’s give the context of India. The mob mentality has being a nuisance in Indian society which has not only ruined its peace but it has disrupted the law and order. And in the Covid Era where everyone has free time, there are times when people have used it for the wrong reasons. The media, politicians, people with authority, corporations are the biggest influences of mob mentality and these groups manipulate them in the name of some cause. And mob’s mindset of  “our way or no way” is not only toxic but also damaging.

The Rhea Chakraborty Case is one of the example of the online mob mentality. Rhea who has the deplorable of being the sweetheart of the now deceased Sushant Singh Rajput was exposed to mass provocation by the crowd. She has got various threats on the internet by the people who accept that she is responsible for the actor’s demise [v]. Influenced by the media, the mob defended their activities as the stronghold of #JusticeforSSR. Actually, they are simply destroying the legacy of Sushant by pointlessly assaulting the young lady. They don’t understand that the media is attempting to be the appointed judge, jury and executioner and are totally decimating the significance of free trial as well as the concept of innocent before proven guilty. Even if she is responsible for Sushant’s demise, she should be rebuffed under the confines of the law.

The mob did the same thing with Sarvjeet Singh, when Jasleen Kaur made a Facebook post against him regarding her alleged “sexual harassment”. Once again the media played a huge role in making judgments on Sarvjeet by calling him Dilli ka Darinda. And the mob ate it up by attacking Sarvjeet. Because of this not only he lost his job but his life was destroyed. He was eventually acquitted when Jasleen didn’t even appear for the proceedings thus raising the questions regarding the credibility of her post[vi].

In the last few years, various influential people have perverted the word patriotism or deshbhakti so that they could advance their own interests. The reason is, people are very emotional about their country which is completely normal. However, their emotions are completely manipulated by these influential people so that they can get whatever they want. And if someone makes a simple critique against them, they just get bamboozled and they try to paint the person as anti-nationalist or deshdrohi or he/she should go to Pakistan. Keep in mind that the Sedition law aka Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code has been completely misused especially by such people just for the sake of achieving their objective[vii]. Patriotism has just become a shield for these people.

People like Hindustani Bhau, has stooped so low that they are influencing teenagers to send death threats and rape threats to people in the name of patriotism. They are only doing this because they want to gain attraction from the crowd. Pewdiepie vs T-Series is another example[viii]. People who are following T-Series, are just blatantly attacking Pewdiepie over some jokes. And it is all in the name of patriotism, disregarding the fact that they are only following a soulless corporation just because it is Indian and they want an Indian YouTube Channel to surpass a foreigner in subscribers[ix]. Not only this is setting a very dangerous precedent but it goes to show how low the bar has been set by such people who are doing this “for the country”.

The law has set an example so that the menace of mob mentality decreases in a more drastic way. The IPC, the IT Act, The Contempt of Courts Act and even the Constitution must ensure that.

  1. The person’s dignity, reputation, body and mind must not be harmed in any shape or form.
  2. The trial must be done in court and court only. It must be done in free and fair manner.
  3. The court should serve as a deterrence so that media or any other influential person or group abuse their influence and status for their own benefits.
  4. The position of the country should not be put in a dangerous position.
  5. And last. People should think for themselves and form their own opinions instead of following what other people have to say.[x][xi][xii]

The mob mentality is the result of low tolerance among the populace over any and every reason. So the tolerance level must be increased. People should also understand that India is a country with law and order, not the Wild West. They should not gather to attack someone or some group over anything and everything. All I can hope is that this toxic mentality burn into cinders, so that our society becomes more civil and just.

References

[i] https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=mob-mentality

[ii] http://www.legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-4082-online-harassment-and-the-rise-of-social-media-trial-and-online-witch-hunt.html

[iii] https://www.90daykorean.com/what-is-kpop/#:~:text=Kpop%20is%20Korean%20popular%20music.%20It%20is%20mainstream,as%20K-pop,%20K%20pop,%20Kpop,%20K-Pop,%20and%20KPOP.

[iv] https://youtu.be/V-Dmu1SK9o4

[v] https://www.filmfare.com/news/bollywood/rhea-chakraborty-gets-rape-and-death-threat-42262.html

[vi] https://www.opindia.com/2019/10/falsely-accused-of-harassment-and-molestation-by-aap-member-jasleen-kaur-sarvjeet-singh-finally-acquitted-by-court/

[vii] https://indiankanoon.org/doc/1641007/

[viii] https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2021/01/the-fault-in-our-youtube-stars-problems-of-indian-youtubers/

[ix] https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2021/01/online-bandwagon-and-outrage-culture-in-india/

[x] Laws Punishing Cyber Stalking and Online Harassment – iPleaders

[xi] https://www.lawyersclubindia.com/articles/TRIAL-BY-MEDIA-A-LEGAL-PERSPECTIVE-686.asp#:~:text=Trial%20By%20Media%20Is%20Contempt%20Of%20Court%20And,contempt%20has%20further%20been%20divided%20into%20three%20types:

[xii] https://www.latestlaws.com/articles/recent-developments-in-the-arena-of-freedom-of-speech-and-expression-and-concept-of-media-trial-explained/

This article has been written by Anish Bachchan, a law student currently studying at Amity Law School, Noida.

Also Read – Violent Extremism: The Dying Soul of Humanity in India.

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