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#Matkarforward - Verify your message before forwarding...

“Have you heard about it?”

“Heard what?”

“The new virus?”

“What?”

“Yes. Another virus is coming out. Again, from China!”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. Check your WhatsApp, I have forwarded it to you!”

~ * ~

Sarvesh was relieved after hearing the relaxation about the lockdown. He was particularly pleased about the opening of parks and beaches for walking purposes as he used to run regularly and believes in fitness.

After a long wait, the day has come and Sarvesh, all geared up and fresh, went for a run. There were a lot of trees in the park, he used to run and one among them was Mahua (Iluppai in Tamil). He saw an unusual movement near that tree. People looked scared and were maintaining their distance from that tree. The tree was along the joggers/walkers’ path, which people deliberately avoided and created their own path. Sarvesh didn’t really understand the reason behind this peculiar behaviour. So, he went on with his old trail i.e. running alongside Mahua trees at the park. As soon as he crossed the artificial path and stepped on to the old path that lead to Mahua trees, he sensed a strange and uncanny look amongst the fellow walkers/joggers. Unable to control, some even started to scream.

“Do not go near that tree!”

“Hey boy, don’t you have sense?”

“Why don’t you follow this path?”

“These youngsters are always troublemakers!”

Panicked, Sarvesh stopped and turned back to see those fierce onlookers with raging eyes. He inched closer to a lady, seated on a bench with headsets on, and enquired about this unforeseen ambush.

With a grin, she replied, “Ignore them, man. These guys believe whatever they see in WhatsApp.”

“I don’t understand!” Sarvesh shrugged.

“There was a viral message about Bats being one of the transmitters of Covid-19. Bats and Mahua trees. Can you see the connection?” responded the lady with an impish smile.

“Alright! I get it now. This is silly. There are lot of researches stating that Covid-19 cannot be transmitted through bats.” Sarvesh fumed.

“Relax. Ignore them!” she winked.

~ * ~

While the first incident was my conversation with mother, the other one was a fictional narration based on the widely conceived rumour. And a common thread that connects both these narratives is ‘Whatsapp.’

People, nowadays, are fond of social forums. Whatsapp, being one of the widely used and popular social forums, has been on every smartphone. A lot of contents, articles, pictures, etc are getting shared and downloaded in this app daily. Nobody knows the authenticity of these contents, yet we share it with others. Because we go by the emotional facets of the contents rather than its scientific validity and we prefer to pass it on to others with the same emotional level.

Little did we realise about the resultant consequences while forwarding all this content, which is not authentic and valid i.e. fake. For example, consider the second story and imagine if people start cutting Mahua trees because of the unscientific message circulated in their group. This is worse. Covid-19 cannot affect India, considering the hot and humid weather. This is worse. Garlic and turmeric can cure Covid-19. This is worse. Brutally stopping the municipal authorities who were on their job to bury the Covid-19 casualty cases are the worst of all.

But all these can be avoided, had we spent some quality time researching on the contents received through social platforms. Be it an article, video or pictures, a little research can help us out in determining the authenticity. Once we are sure about the genuineness of the content, we can go on and forward it to others.

Referring to authentic sites is one way of checking the validity of the content. World Health Organisation (WHO) and United Nations (UN) are two globally recognised organisations who release only verified information. Also, there is an interesting way in which we can be a part of creating awareness – by becoming an Information Volunteer.

Likewise, we can also verify our contents through TikTok newsroom where, with simple research and reading valid articles and videos, you can get enough information. The dynamic platform shall help you decide whether to forward it or not, depending upon the certainty of the content’s and its significance to the present context.

Most importantly, this verification process must become a habit and it should pertain only to the present Covid-19 situation. 

Because information can become a virus, if misused.

Let us not get carried away by ‘forward messages’, instead verify them using some authenticated platforms and if it is fake, reply boldly #MatkarForward

p.s. you can keep up with the campaign by following the #takecarebeforeyoushare hashtag

#Matkarforward - Verify your message before forwarding... #Matkarforward - Verify your message before forwarding... Reviewed by Gowthama Rajavelu on 16:15 Rating: 5

2 comments:

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