As we entered the lush campus of Lady Sri Ram College for our workshop on the 29th October 2015, we the CSR team of Vikram Sheoran, Arnika Singh, Nikita Blanes and Abhiruchi.Ranjan, were a bit apprehensive as this was going to be a very short, one and a half hour workshop.
Looking at the shorter time duration that we had, we focused the discussion on Counter Speech and effective uses of social media for social change. Counter-speech is basically the ability to best respond to inappropriate behaviour online, promoting positive online etiquette. During this short discussion, we shared our views on internet trolling. Trolls are the users who provoke readers into emotional responses by posting off-topic or inflammatory remarks on chatrooms, blogs and social media profiles. But often, comments which question or criticize someone online is reported as internet trolling. This discussion got me thinking, how it was so important as a woman to know and understand the difference between online trolling and healthy criticism.
Internet trolling against women however, is a very serious issue as it can be traced to the high level of violence against women in general. Even though both men and women face online abuse, it is women who face the most vicious kind of online harassment. It has been reported by Women’s Aid that out of 307 domestic violence survivors, 48% women had been harassed or abused online by their ex-partner once they had left the relationship and 38% reported online stalking. A further 45% were abused online during their relationship. Arnika explained to the students that since being online was no longer a choice but a necessity, learning the right way to counter hurtful and hateful comments was of utmost importance.
After this session, we had the tangram activity where one team had to put together the tans of a figure without looking at it, only through verbal instructions. We were taken aback with the level of precision and meticulousness with which the team explained the diagram. When we asked the team which was piecing together the figure, to explain what problems they faced during the activity, they said, “We got confused between a trapezium and a parallelogram”. There couldn’t have been a better demonstration of how sometimes very succinctly delivered messages aren’t received best, if not verified or clarified.
The last session, where the students designed campaigns was the most interesting one. Different groups presented their campaign ideas. At least three groups spoke about the issue of rising communalism and the beef ban. In a very interesting manner, the team members said, “if we look at the thali, it is khali because pulses are getting costlier and the beef is banned, so what should the common man eat?” Another team kept their campaign logo as a cow smiling ear to ear with a fork on one side and a knife on another side.
Though short but the workshop was exciting as the students were keen to learn about this concept and they mentioned that they never thought of using social media for other purposes other than connecting with family & friends. And that’s what social surfing also wishes to promote. The online space is revolutionary and if used effectively, it can be the best possible tool to drive in a change.
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