TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

Social Media Sandstorm

So, the UAE survived a tsunami of natural disasters that were set to ravage the country, as per ‘experts’ on social media. It was very amusing, as was disturbing, to receive bulk BBMs and tweets announcing the ‘arrival’ of malevolent forces after a 2-day sandstorm hit Dubai.

Sandstorms are a common occurence in the Middle East. As common as monsoons in India. This particular sandstorm, that hit Dubai, carried dust from Saudi Arabia and considerably reduced visibility. Movements outside of office and residence was rather limited, as was drying clothes. While on drying clothes, a new fine will be introduced next month for those that use their balconies to hang clothes outside or use clothes-line in public view. Understandably so, for I haven’t ever seen a ‘kandoura’ dry in the sun! But we shall keep this for a discussion later. Back to the sandstorm, then.

There were rumours of a cyclone, then terrible tremours, and unrestful seas – all on the heels of a sandstorm! Shamaal winds are commonplace in summers, however winter shamaals are also known.  So, what happened in Dubai is not an uncommon event. But social media said otherwise!

It almost seemed that all natural disasters made a bee-line for the UAE and for no understandable reason. I regret not saving those messages when they arrived. Would have reproduced the text here. One broadcast took the dynamo-effect as most on my contact list simply re-broadcast it. Twitter timelines and Facebook updates spelt hazard in capitals; almost as if they could shoot the sequel to disaster porn flick 2012.

Whilst visibility in Dubai decreased, what emerged crystal clear is the ‘double-edge’ that social media wields. We have given up on credibility. There is no cross-checking or cross-referencing of information. Sharing is the new code-of-honour for all social media users and most times, without fully reading or understanding the message. If social media truly have really bridged gaps between people and organisation, then why didn’t a single, credible tweet / BBM / update emerge that would have cared to dispel the dusty rumours that did the round for 2 days?

We all want to be the seat and source of information and knowledge, I presume. Just that, we haven’t yet reached that maturity to do so. So till then, we shall continue to write bogus and upload photos with strange finger signs.

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