Social media has given access to platforms to all and sundry. People from every corner of the world now have the opportunity to garner massive fan following, and earn a living by giving followers something to enjoy.
Most often than not, YouTubers, and Tik Tok stars rely on recent trends for their content. Current events help them enter the limelight, and eventually make their mark. Pakistan presents a great market for Vloggers, and influencers since social media has become one of the primary hobbies for the majority of the Pakistanis. They watch Tik Tok videos, YouTube channels and jump on the bandwagon of Twitter trends for tearing apart the content, and actors involved.
One of the most prominent news in 2022 for Pakistan is the abduction of Dua Zahra. The case trended on every social media platform in the country, and showed how some parents would go the extra mile for their child, despite the patriarchal narrative that rules our society. People were quick to pass judgements on Dua Zahra and the 16 year old’s character. Others began defending the marriage, saying she was of age. Dua Zahra’s parents held multiple press conferences, protests to bring back the girl were held across the country, and the news media gave it 24/7 coverage.
The case also presented an opportunity for social media stars, and nascent influencers to gain quick popularity. Many social media stars began making posters, illustrations and videos on Dua Zahra. Jouranlist, Zunaira Mahum interviewed Dua Zahra, and her husband (read abductor) for a local news channel. The girl was dolled up in red, and make up, with her hair nicely made up. Many noticed how a pillow was placed beneath Dua to make her look older than she really is. Despite the massive backlash from the masses, she shared private pictures of the couple on the internet, in which Dua and Zaheer were shown to be cuddling with each other.
To make matters worse for Dua Zahra and her parents, bloggers are trying to milk the cash cow as much as possible. On 29th July, a YouTuber went to Mehdi Kazmi’s house to interview the distressed father. Much to the YouTuber’s dismay, Dua’s father was not home, but his sister was. As per Jibran Nasir’s Twitter claim the YouTuber, Faisal, harassed Mehdi’s sister for a full 15 minutes, pushing her to give an interview. Jibran Nasir, Mehdi’s lawyer, expressed his anger and said they will be filing a case against Faisal.
“Horrified at the harassment of Mehdi Kazmi’s family today. A YouTuber who introduced himself as Faisal visited the home of Mehdi Kazmi sb today who wasn’t at home.”, Jibran Nasir tweeted.
These kinds of incidents show the façade social media has created around people, and especially for the ones who are trying to make a living off it. For gaining clout, and 15 minutes of fame, people will go to any lengths to get what they want. There are dozens of “prank” videos online where the content creator tries to pull a joke on random citizens, often by humiliating them on an international platform. Such people hardly care for the repercussions for their victims, and are only concerned about the number of views they are getting. They will go to any lengths to make their content viral, ignoring all sense of morality, and humanity.
The rule of thumb for ethical journalism, and research is simple. Strive to ensure the exchange of information is free, accurate and thorough. These rules are the same for influencers, and people running YouTube channels. It is important for these influencers to understand that quality content requires empathy, and compassion, not shortcuts that reek of degenerative tactics for likes and followers. At the end of the day, we have all seen people rise to the peaks of glory, only to fall head over heels because of mistakes like these.
Faisal, who harassed Mehdi Kazmi’s sister, should know that fame gained through crooked means is only temporary. True success comes when people can trust you, and count on you for producing credible content.
By Amna Sheikh