The recent murder of a 16 year old Mumbai boy, Adnan Patrawala created a stir in the local and national media. Stories of how a social networking site was responsible for killing an innocent teenager were splashes all across the news channels. Debates on whether such sites on internet have spoiled the youth of today and opened them to the so-called western culture received the highest TRPs during that time. Some right-wing organizations even suggested the need to ban all such sites in India, where it supposedly harms our culture and values.
This incident is not the first of its kind, at least not on television. Marriages on internet, falling in love while chatting online and similar scams and scandals come up every now and then on TV. The explicit adult content available freely on web has been under the line of fire for as long as internet has existed, and rightly so. The reason I put all the incidents under one category is because, the underlined theme of all their news items has been on lines of how internet has corrupted the young minds.
In Adnan’s case, the murder was committed by three of his friends who wanted a lot of money in ransom. All three of them have been arrested, but the police is speculating that a fourth person may have been involved, who kept in touch with Adnan through Orkut, a social networking site. Even before the official investigation of the case could be complete, the media started playing Sherlock Holmes and confidently narrated the details of the case to millions of TV viewers all across the country. According to them, the fourth person in question was the master-mind of the plan and his careful communication with Adnan was the reason this murder happened. The truth of the matter is still unknown, not to the media, but to the people officially employed to investigate the case.
On one hand, Orkut was voted as the ‘Youth Icon of the Year’ by MTV and on the other hand it was branded as some shady online forum. I have actually read news bulletin with titles such as- “Orkut ne kiya ek aur khoon” (Orkut commits one more murder), “Ek massom ki jaan internet ke haath” (An innocent’s life in internet’s hand).
These few incidents have involved people who do not know how to use this medium of communication well. It goes without saying that the invention of World Wide Web has been a major landmark in the history of Information Technology. It has completely revolutionized communication, trade, business and the way we exchange information. Now, the extent to which personal information should be shared depends on the individual, with the knowledge that its consequences should be borne by him.
Had it not been for internet, I would have not been able to participate in the working of this site and share my thoughts with the masses. Such cases of irresponsible journalism not only taint its image but also inhibit its growth in a country where internet penetration is still very low.