RIGHT to privacy is protected as intrinsic part of Right to Life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of freedom guaranteed by part third of the Constitution of India. This right holds its importance equally even in these difficult times when Covid -19 has made many people needy to such an extent that they might be compromising their privacy.
Tranquility lies in serving people who are in need and this Covid-19 has made many people time bound needy. The labourers don’t beg, they work but in these circumstances they are helpless. Similarly many people with money and assets are bound by the lockdown and have become themselves needy.
In a nation of over a billion population where still 49% depend on primary sector to meet their basic requirements, crisis like Covid-19 makes many vulnerable helpless. In last two to three weeks I have witnessed people helping each other without considering caste, religion or ethnicity. But at the same time social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram were flooded with stories showcasing the brotherhood of mankind. But photos showing helper helping the helpless and then posting such photos for netizens to see and appreciate intrigues me. We need to realise one thing that it is good to help people but it’s not necessary to flaunt the philanthropy by posting photos of charity on social media.
Over the past two weeks I saw people of high repute like the top level bureaucrats to the lowest in the hierarchy sharing photos in which they are helping people. I derive two basic assumptions from this :-
◆Either these people are trying to incite in us the general feeling of compassion and encourage us to work for humanity, then that is a very noble cause.
◆ Or they are trying to showing to people that they are helping and getting social media likes and attention; this has the least possibility.
But in both the cases there is a third person who is being helped. He has an equal self esteem and worth but due to some circumstances he isn’t able to stand for himself or herself.
There is a little difference between use and abuse of camera; at one moment you might be using it while the next you might be abusing and disturbing someone’s personal space and privacy. We should be very careful while using our camera these days. Most of the people who are being helped and whose photos are latter uploaded on social media sites are very poor and unaware of the social issues but the people who have knowledge and are in need don’t come to ask for help fearing our smartphones as the Urdu poet puts it ;
Khud-dar mera shehar ka, faqoun sai mar gaya
Ration to batt raha tha, woh photo sai dar gaya
There are many needy people who don’t ask for help fearing their self esteem and privacy may be at risk. We are still young in the age of social media and we have to learn everything good is not worth sharing. Our smart phones sometimes outsmart us. We can give food to animals and birds and share those on social media. We enjoy a superiority over someone doesn’t mean we should be proclaiming sovereignty on social media. It has only been this decade and second half of last that we have started to use social media so as I said we are too young in this field and we have to learn and remind ourselves of the ethical issues related to these things.
By posting our photo in which we are helping others on social media we are not telling our future generation to work rather we are guiding them a thing with which they can pretend they are helping while they are not. The culture we are promoting by this is very poisonous and it’ll rust the roots of our ethics and social fabric.
It has a Islamic perspective too. Islam doesn’t encourage show off and in matters of giving it tells us to remain extremely confidential.
People working in Public Service Institutions should be highly conscious that these institutions have been brought only to help the general public and it is the duty of everyone to keep to ourselves the information shared by the people. We can’t for mere social media attraction and Facebook likes ruin someone’s prestige.
Some of us may say we take consent from the person who is in the photo or video, but speak logically while keeping ourselves at their place would we like our photo to be posted on Facebook. I’m sure not.
Author works at SKIMS, MCH Bemina. He can be reached at: [email protected]
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