Actor Shabana Azmi got seriously injured on Saturday when her car collided with a truck on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. While the actor is said to be out of danger now, the pictures from her accident are doing rounds on social media, being shared liberally by certain media houses and common folks alike. Isn’t it insensitive and unethical to share pictures from a site of accident or tragedy? Has the lure of social media likes managed to obscure our sense of empathy? Would you like to have a camera shoved into your face when you are at your vulnerable most?
- Isn’t sharing an injured person’s images akin to robbing them of their dignity?
- Would you like to have a camera shoved in your face at your most vulnerable?
- Does the lust for likes overshadow the sense of empathy today?
Has the lure of social media likes managed to obscure our sense of empathy?
The pictures doing the rounds on social networking platforms show Azmi lying on the road, being aided by some men in uniform. She can be seen bleeding and in need of urgent medical aid. Imagine being in that state; delirious from the sheer shock of the accident, in pain, dependent on others to lift you up and put you in an ambulance? Would you like to be photographed at such a moment? And yet, Azmi had to bear the added trauma of insensitivity apart from her injuries. Did she pay the price of being a celebrity, one wonders?
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The combination of paparazzi culture, smartphones and social media have created this insatiable monster whose hunger for celebrity pictures never dies. We want to see snaps of celebs going to the gym, stepping out to attend a wedding, going on a dinner date, heading for the airport and even dropping their children to school. Much has been said about how this incessant exposure to shutterbugs is both harmful and unfair to star-kids. But it isn’t as if celebrities themselves have fun posing for the cameras all the time. We often read reports about how a certain celebrity lost their cool at the people taking their pictures without their consent, or at paparazzi for not leaving them alone.
A mixed sensation of fear, anticipation and sheer curiosity guides many people into clicking on articles, tweets or posts that promise pictures from a “gruesome” or “tragic” incident.
However, we the common people aren’t immune from this curse of sensationalism. It is not just Azmi, whose pictures after meeting with an accident have made it to the Internet. Deaths, bloodshed and morbid incidences have a demand of their own. There is this primitive instinct that kicks in whenever we are offered a chance to peek at pictures of violence. A mixed sensation of fear, anticipation and sheer curiosity guides many people into clicking on articles, tweets or posts that promise pictures from a “gruesome” or “tragic” incident.
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But the bigger question is, what is someone who takes such pictures driven by? What prompts a person to see another human in distress and point a camera at them? I remember watching a film called The Nightcrawler, in which the lead, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, realises that he can make money from selling footages of criminal activities and accidents. The greed and hunger for fame gets the better of him and soon he begins manipulating crime scenes to suit his narrative, also losing all his empathy towards humanity in the process. I am always reminded of the film wherever I see news agencies and social media users share images of injured or dead people.
Be it a celebrity or any common person, each human being has the right to be treated with dignity. And certainly, when you click someone’s image which depicts them covered in blood, clothes tattered and disoriented, you are taking away their dignity as well as disrespecting their agency. So before sharing such horrific images, stop to think what you are doing to that person in the picture and what does that say about you.
Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.