Social Media is a virtual world where everything is probable whatever someone desires to create, and promote and even virtual games like PUBG can force people to commit suicide and even force addicts of this game to kill others.
This situation explains that there is no doubt that today’s man is living two kinds of life, one of which is the virtual world (internet fantasy world) based on ambiguity, and the other is the real world reflecting the facts.
The cognitive mechanism behind virtual games like PUBG and its influence over the human mind is not limited only to computer games or virtual games rather this phenomenon is largely controlling social and political spheres globally and “virtual living” is being used by groups like PTI in Pakistan that is creating so strong virtual presence that its followers start living in the virtual world while disconnecting themselves from the real world. Virtual world formation suits such groups because anonymity and accessibility of social media have provided a free ground for hate speech, crimes, spreading baseless information and malignant propaganda, and offering a Utopian world model that suits such groups.
Prof Dennis Tourish has coined the terminology of “cultic mindset” which almost covers all aspects that we can see in PTI as a social and virtual group. Tourish says that cults are highly effective at censoring information and opinions that are not in line with their set targets. Whatever the realities of General Elections 2024 in Pakistan are censored and filtered by PTI social media arrangements that provide tailored-made information to the public that the PTI is the most popular political party in the country and over 80 % of voters are going to elect PTI’s candidates in General Elections 2024. This echo chamber leads to excessive distancing from the real world for those who follow PTI social media and believe whatever the virtual world (social media platforms of PTI) are telling them because they are living in “social isolation”.
This is now testified fact this 2% of Twitter users are portrayed as 80% of the population of Pakistan by several experts and anchors working in mainstream media of Pakistan
Dr. Lionel Obadia, who is a Professor in Anthropology at the University of Lyon, France in his academic paper titled “When Virtuality Shapes Social Reality explains that the shift from “reality” to “virtuality” caused by the Internet has controlled belief system of humans and they trust what they find on social media platforms. People have started believing there is rain outside if they are told by social media influencers instead of going outside their rooms to watch whether there is rain or shining sun outside. This “virtuality” has been playing a dangerous role in the Pakistani political scene for a long although the number of people living with “virtuality” is not larger than 10% of the population constant presence on social media platforms magnifies this 10% as “huge”.
For influencing election campaigning and convincing, social media creates polls, tailors statistics, and releases fabricated data in a way that looks original and authentic. PTI is releasing cunning data sheets about the popularity and even claiming that 80% of Pakistani voters will vote for PTI-supported candidates in the forthcoming General Elections in 2024.
However, this imaginary picture provided by the PTI has been exposed by the Global Data Report. According to this report, the total population of Pakistan is 240 million, of which 88 million are internet users, which is less than 37% of the total population while 152 million or more than 63 percent of people do not use the Internet. Only 72 million internet users are social media users and of these social media users, only 4.65 million people are Twitter users, which is only 2 percent of the total population. Moreover, among this 72 % of social media users are government agencies, workers of political and religious parties, university students, and business accounts.
This is now testified fact this 2% of Twitter users are portrayed as 80% of the population of Pakistan by several experts and anchors working in mainstream media of Pakistan. Another important factor is that when the influence of social media is mentioned, why doesn’t anyone mention the 63% who don’t use the internet and cannot share opinions about which party they are supporting?
Is it logical that only two percent of Twitter users of the total population decide the fate of the remaining 98% of the population? If you put sentimentality aside and look logically, these social media users also include supporters of other parties.
So always keep the factual statistics in mind before believing the fake polls created in the imaginary world of social media because patriotism is more important than sentimentality.
Note: Having a degree in Mass Communication, Hina Haroon is a promising young journalist who focuses on the socio-political landscape of Pakistan.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.