TikTok versus socio-ideological ethos


In the increasingly interdependent world of today, global connectivity has become intertwined due to high level of advancement in the area of telecommunication technology leading to the bombardment of many websites and applications abbreviated as Apps that have captured the human mind like magic.
It is more fantasizing than the world of fantasy as it has virtually become second nature of millions of human beings across the globe to go all the way through these Apps.
Whether it may be business, administration, politics, social linkages or international relations, a very large chunk of all these activities is handled via mobile phones, laptops and computerized gadgets.
Now, even presidents, prime ministers, institutions’ chiefs and world leaders discuss the broader outlines of their prevailing circumstances, challenges, solutions and strategies through Twitter and other universally popular accounts.
Even heads of states and governments exchange their respective points of view on such accounts, especially Twitter. Tweets, inter alia, by President Donald Trump of USA, President Putin of Russia and Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan and DG, ISPR, are very much before us. Even important situations and global crises (Covid-19, for instance) are explained on Twitter along with their background through Twitter.
In fact, these Apps and social media accounts have acquired the status of a powerful, formidable parallel world, given its power, pervasiveness and reach to create and destroy situations.
The world has witnessed as to how human behaviour has, at times, been governed, mesmerized and hypnotized by Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, WeChat and TikTok.
All these innovations of the realm of Telecommunications have created (and are continuing to create) waves and vibes.
While most of these means of fast and comprehensive communication have brought the peoples of the world together on a push-button board and helped diffuse the misunderstandings, a few of them have been practically misused, time and again, by miscreants or mischief-minded ones to wreak havoc on the social fabric, divesting it of the basic mores of decency, even good, reasonable living. TikTok, in particular, has been mischievously used in Pakistan on a number of occasions resulting in the piling up of complaints lodged with law-enforcement and regulating organizations by parents of blemished-image youth, especially the exploited daughters. The pleasure or frenzy, whatever, among the TikTok-er youth is so high that they don’t even mind risking their lives by playing dangerous games or going for foolhardy attitudes and adventures.
Now, this is something which just cannot be stamped out only with the strong arm of the state system because of its powerful influence of a trend. And trends, once they are established, become habits or second nature. The change requires a package of persevering pursuits and all-pervasive strategies in keeping with the prevailing ethos and the dominating ideology of a country.
Take, for example, the rationale put forth by India and USA for the banning or blocking of TikTok. Both the countries have quoted ‘security reasons’, the world knowing well what does the term ‘security’ mean in Indian and American perspectives while dealing with an issue that has its roots in China.
In Pakistan, the perspectives as well as our socio-religious milieu are different. Here, we have to keep the traditional socio-cultural-ideological fabric intact while simultaneously embracing newer and newer technologies, Apps and telecom systems.
It is indeed very unfortunate that Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) had to intervene and block the TikTok application on behalf of the state after receipt of complaintsin view of number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video sharing application TikTok. It is not in sync with the modern trends and requirements of an evolving society but, as it has come to the fore on several instances, TikTok has been driven quite wildly as a free-for-all tool to entice, incite, mislead and infuriate as if the ever-growing freedom of expression allowed us to say, write and discuss even the wicked most thoughts occurring to our minds without caring for the fact that the targeted people could suffer big blows to their image and peaceful living.
It will be in the fitness of things if a comprehensive, practicable strategy is evolved with the consultation of sane and sincere representatives to be invited from different walks of life including religious scholars, literati, media seniors, politicians from different sides, law-enforcement authorities and civil services. It is encouraging to note that PTA has, in its blocking order, informed TikTok that it (PTA) is “open for engagement and will review the decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content”.
One can hope that being a torchbearer of modern, civilized trends and values, TikTok would evolve a workable mechanism to moderate the unlawful content. The emphasis is, for sure, only on the term ‘unlawful’, not lawful. Previously, while passing the order, PTA had stated: “Keeping in view the complaints and nature of the content being consistently posted on TikTok, PTA issued a final notice to the application and gave considerable time to respond and comply with the Authority’s instructions for development of effective mechanism for proactive moderation of unlawful online content. However, the application failed to comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country”.
People of Pakistan in general and TikTok-ers in particular hope that both the PTA and the responsible ones of TikTok App, will evolve a mutually acceptable strategy or mechanism to keep the things moving on the forward track which is the demand of the contemporary times.