Recently, there was a tweet that said “Dear girls, what is stopping you from doing this to your man?” along with #bringbackindiantradition began to trend on Twitter. It was accompanied by a picture of a woman touching the feet of her husband. Obviously, Twiteratti caught on to the hashtag and trolled the user, feminist websites wrote about it and thrashed it, some renowned women journalists too jumped into the fray. But my contention is this – it was bait for feminist women and men. I could not believe that in this day and age of social media vigilantism that a man would so obviously put himself in harm’s way so to say. He knew just the kind of reaction he would generate and he was right.

Within hours he was everywhere. That’s the power of social media, we can use it to one’s advantage or misuse it. This is where we need to be vigilant, try to read the intentions before reacting. I keep looking for women related news and issues so that I can put forward my views. For some reason, I saw this hashtag trending, read the reactions yet I felt there was something amiss. And sure enough, after some days the same person tweeted “Dear Indian women, what is stopping you from doing this all the time?” with the same hashtag, accompanied by a picture of a sinkful of dishes. There it was my belief validated. This guy was having fun at our cost. But sadly the guy again got reactions from angry women.

Are women overreacting?

I believe that social media has given platforms to women to voice their concerns, talk about issues that affect them, call out gender stereotypes which is great. But we also see a lot of herd mentality among them, they see a trend or hashtag and they have to say something on it. This also gives many women false ego boost that they beat men at one-upmanship. This has been noticed by certain people and they are now using it for entertainment.

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Take this, for example, we know women are emotional beings and this drives our social network participation. This is why you will notice that many brands and institutions have strategies that directly target women with messages using touchy pictures, warm colours, direct but kind language, and videos with catchy yet sophisticated music for their online stores. This behaviour hasn’t gone unnoticed. People, especially men can also use this in a crude or offensive way just to trigger us. So, we need to be sure about the authenticity of a post before reacting to it.

Men use social media to vent pent up emotions

If one is to go through social media data, we will notice that women and men communicate differently. It’s a known fact that men are more likely to engage in trolling, or aggressive language, online. This could be related to the fact that men use social media platforms as a way to vent their aggression and frustration, something they’re not able to do in face-to-face communication, unlike women.

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So, maybe this poor guy does not have a way to vent his negative feelings or maybe he is a poor harassed man who can only pose as a strongman online and be hailed as the saviour of Indian culture. He needs to be pitied.

Women – use social media as your superpower

We women are more active on social media; we use it more and participate more than men. This is why it is believed that we will mark trends since we have typically adapted more and better to the technology.

Women are multitaskers even in the digital space. We can, for instance, upload photos on Instagram and at the same time ‘like’ a post on Facebook and share a link on LinkedIn. Women are undoubtedly very expressive and feel comfortable holding several conversations at the same time. There is no doubt that women are an active lot on social media and they communicate naturally across platforms because they share similar communicative logic. Men, in contrast, are more selective when engaging in conversations and tend to share similar-format content.

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We have reached that point where we can influence a viewpoint through our posts, so it’s time we took control of what we are posting and reacting to on social media platforms.

The underlined fact here is that we need to use social media to our advantage and not become a tool for entertainment of others.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Smita Singh is a freelance writer. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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