“La haine attire la haine” (Hate attracts hate)

By Shariz Uzfar. Shariz, 33, lives in Dehiwela, Sri Lanka. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments down below.

In this particular era of our present existence, that is defined by breakthrough technology and the continuous rise of social media, sources in the form of journals, articles and news reports which originate from a particular region, are virtually accessible and reflective within milliseconds of them being published. Similarly, spoken words and actions enacted through press conferences and other sources reverberate significantly on a global scale. Regrettably, among the majority of headlines, it is the negative and controversial ones that often generate the biggest likes, tweets, re-tweets and word of mouth discussions, with hate being at the forefront.

Hate appears to be sourced through many avenues. One primary mode appears through rivalries and loyalties. These are through affiliations to organizations, schools, clubs and even countries. In the perspective of specific groups of people, there is clearly a mistaken notion that in order to wholeheartedly express love towards what is pursued and adored, hate must be released in full force towards others. Hence, according to such cliques, showing love with respect, tolerance and appreciation towards all communities is not true love but a perceived sign of tenderness. Thereby, in a further re-iteration in this regard, love should only be for those who are kin and that love is only validated when hate is unleashed on other ethnicities and groups.

When aiming to analyze the causes of detestation, some of the explanations are along the lines of the hate being towards a particular race or ethnicity based on superiority/inferiority complex as well as an anger towards a particular religion or ethnicity, based on the mistaken conviction that a vast majority who follow that faith possess extreme beliefs. A further reason for instigating hate can be to possibly gain notorious attention and recruit individuals and groups to the cause on a physical as well as a virtual scale.

Being an avid football fan, I love the sport for the spectacle, the quality, and the celebration of aligning people from all walks of life around the globe to cherish the togetherness. However, hate continues to consistently rear its ugly head even in these cherished environments; thus, taking away the glitz, glamour and shine significantly in some cases. In the name of fiercely blinding club and country loyalties, certain fans instigate attacks on those who visit stadiums as well as those who enjoy the match day experience in an online setting resulting in unhealthy fall-outs.

Further, this alarmingly stretches to showing hatred towards the players themselves, owing to probable causes such as simply playing for a rival club, or even just because of under-performance during a game resulting in a loss that was hard to stomach; just so one can gain a cheap psychological advantage. A few such instances have been so bad that those affected players have either temporarily or even permanently disconnected their online accounts to escape the flak and wrath.

By the actions of such fans, it is evident that winning in whatever manner is the ultimate goal and outweighs key human characteristics such as morals, mutual respect and love towards all communities which remain conspicuous in its absence. The absence of a statement of condemnation let alone a formal investigation by federations and authorities in specific countries where these incidents keep recurring, indicate a lack of acknowledgement and a level of denial pertaining to racism, abuse and others related aspects in a rapidly contagious hate culture.

Unfortunately, this is a disease that has gripped nearly all forms of life. Social media and other conventional sources are awash with hate speeches, tweets, posts with certain individuals, and groups taking the freedom of expression bestowed upon us to a completely extreme level. J.M. Berger, a fellow with the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism in The Hague said that, ‘’social media gives extremists some powerful tools for growth: anonymity and an easy way to seek out people with similar interests”. He further added that “on the Internet, ugly ideas aren’t discarded, they’re supercharged. That’s the real danger” (Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/twitter-faces-hate-speech-backlash_b_5992f62ee4b0caa1687a6383).

Moreover, Facebook and Twitter have long experienced diverse challenges in their respective attempts to redress hate related posts whilst trying to maintain an adequate balance between empowering freedom of expression and combating hate speech. Facebook faced severe backlash over its inability to curb the spread of provocative posts particularly with regard to the Rohingya community with Reuters discovering the presence of more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims in its platform (Source: https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/myanmar-facebook-hate/).

One of the major criticisms faced in this regard was the limited human resources within the organization, with only two personnel who were thoroughly conversant in the Burmese language being in charge of reviewing hate-based posts that were present as early as 2015. The organization’s attempts to rectify the matter were reflected in the removal of 18 accounts linked to Myanmar and 52 Facebook pages (Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-45326928) as well as through Facebook’s News Feed Algorithm in the year 2018 in order to limit the spread of toxic content on an overall scale (Source: https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-limits-hate-speech-toxic-content/).

On the other hand, Twitter faced its own issues pertaining to the organization’s terms of service policy which didn’t essentially cover all hate related content. This was evident in the manner in which they handled the case of Shahak Shapira, a Berlin based activist, who reported over 300 tweets to which there was only a response 9 times. They too have aimed to combat hate speech through ‘speeding up the specific dealing with notifications, reviewing 39 percent of them in less than 24 hours which represented a 23.5% increase in December 2016 as per the June 2017 European Commission’s Review of Illegal Hate Speech online’ (Source: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/twitter-faces-hate-speech-backlash_b_5992f62ee4b0caa1687a6383).

However, more effort needs to be rendered in order to further mitigate the risk of hate speech being spread. This was acknowledged by Mark Zuckerberg who admitted that ‘one of Facebook’s most fundamental problems: that sensationalist and provocative posts, even those that doesn’t explicitly violate Facebook’s policies, tend to get the most engagement on the platform’  (Source: https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-limits-hate-speech-toxic-content/). This is a worrying indication of the bigger battle that lies ahead in this regard.

Whilst there is no denying the fact that those social media giants must enhance scrutiny and enact stern action based on the outcomes of their internal investigations, the users in either an individual or a group based capacity have a major responsibility to play in terms of what they post online since this is where the thread commences. The individuals and groups who use online media sources must be more vigilant, respectful, and more capable of condemning a matter that is neither just, nor fair, and douse the fires that the authors of hate are so obsessed with transforming in to a blazing inferno in order to satisfy their shameless, classless and disgraceful intentions.

I conclude by stating my worst concern in this regard is that the victims of these attacks initially start to strike back in order to preserve their self-defense and dignity and, worryingly, in the absence of greater protection to combat hate, seek vengeance for all the hurt and pain caused due to being battered repeatedly. It is indeed a worry of the state of the world we leave behind for the future generations when the current context provides so much ammunition for these perpetrators to vent and amplify their personal agendas. Therefore, considering all factors mentioned, hate undoubtedly attracts hate.

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