The story is years old and it still does the rounds.It comes up at times of tension and it gets shared by the seemingly sane souls .Thus the lie lives on about the ‘infertility pill’ in Sri Lanka when the world of medicine is yet to come up with the invention to medically turn an individual, let alone a community infertile, with the use of a specific pharmaceutical product .Astounding to see the profiles of those who liberally pass this lie .From erudite monks to learned professionals ,the carriers of misinformation possess the power –to make others believe .
This is just one example of what a false narrative is. It’s of such power when held on to by influential people that even the Sri Lanka Medical Council has been rather meek in denouncing the abject lie. The most fundamental feature of professionalism is integrity –that of simply staying away from passing on information which cannot be verified. Alas many of us tend to break this rule in favor of sensationalism and gossip.
A tale of horror happened in Kurunegala, so said many a post on Social Media with accusations of many hundreds of illegal abortions purportedly done by a medical practitioner. Country was on pins for week’s .Yet after all said and done, the truth of it is found to be completely different.
Latest is at a bank, where an altercation at the security is now being blown in to a major issue. The ‘trigger happy’ social media pages from the both end of the extremes have jumped in for the kill. At the heart of the matter are an overzealous security official and a relative of the direct victim who seemed to have over reacted.
The damage is untold .False narratives could turn a nation in to cinder. A causal glance at our own history would provide ample evidence. In 1952, Ceylon went on to disfranchise the entire estate sector Tamil community on the premise they would turn out to communists, thus creating power bank for Soviet expansion into Sri Lanka. Divisive and dubious political agenda made irrevocable changes in 1956.During the horrendous violence in 83 ,there was a canard widely circulated that different groups of LTTE members were about to attack Colombo/Kandy etc .List of lies that made Sri Lanka burn goes on.
Let us sit back and take stock of things we happened to pass on during the April 2019 without a fact check. Both the wild fires in Negombo and Chilaw were related to content untrue, shared liberally in social media.
When the nation reaches troubled time such as this, the rumor mills begin; various stories get concocted and spun, to serve the needs of the minds with deviant motives. And how gullible we are in propagating the ‘truth’ which stays unfounded!
In March 2008, one offense of grievous assault and the death of the victim as a consequence was the first flicker which was ignited in to an inferno a few days later that burnt parts of Kandy District, primarily due to hate filled content in social media
It is in a way astonishing as to how gullible the public happen to be in spite of its high rates of literacy. Sheer impunity enjoyed by these messengers of hate and the incomprehensible conduct of the general public in checking facts before ‘share’ , ‘retweet’ , ‘comment’, couple with the eerie hibernation of the civil society whenever the signs are on the wall, have all combined to make Sri Lanka a nation like very few others even among developing countries.
False narratives have done more harm to Sri Lanka than even the combined destruction done by all kinds of terrorists.
This month of summer sunshine is called Black July not for no reason. (KS)