Hate speech wears the garb of right of expression; rights have morphed themselves into inflated sense of entitlement and in all the cacophony about what’s right and what’s not, reason and context have lost their meaning. Digital noise is fast becoming acceptable rhetoric. What is worse, it does not take much to be swept away by the deluge of a vitriolic, self-righteous line of thought that takes shape on various mass as well as digital media platforms. One ‘like’ leads to another and before you know it, mud-slinging becomes a political agenda and prolific outrage and name-calling find legs in our overall narrative.

What is disappointing is the outcome. Individualism, and fearless, independent and balanced thought, most of the times, die a silent death at the hands of an unabated shout match. Simply put, we all want to be heard but we all have lost our ability to listen.

Alicia Keys elucidates eloquently. In the article Alicia Keys: ‘Staying in your lane is the wrong idea’, the celebrated artist points out that while it is important that we step out of our comfort zones and make ourselves heard when it comes to issues that matter, it is also important that we understand context and consequence of all that we put out there. While social media has ensured political activism is no longer the prerogative of the self-proclaimed intelligentsia, Alicia points out, that the medium should not be exploited for selfish motives.

What stood out the most from the interview for me was Alicia’s struggles to establish her true identity on her own terms. She did not allow the constricting stereotypes of the glamour industry dictate to her what is expected of her. I guess we all need to find our strengths in our uniqueness and be empathetic towards others’ otherness.

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