Numerous unhealthy and toxic practices are harboured by social media platforms- leading to the harm of many. Children at a young age sometimes are moulded in such a way that to buy merchandise, dress a certain way, eat certain foods, listen to specific music, and think a specific way at most to be accepted. And more often than not, even after doing all these, they don’t feel accepted. Over time, social media has become an unsafe space, making us more vulnerable to toxic cultures each day.
The amount of likes, claps, thumbs up, stars, followers, fans, subscribers, comments, retweets, all make or break your content even before someone clicks or watches or reads it. Many use social media to upload videos spewing threats of various kinds and creating a virtual terror. They make hundreds and thousands of people of a specific gender/religion/quota, feel unsafe and unwanted. It is high time we realize, that most people using social media do not respect boundaries, and do not care for privacy of others.
A classic example of this is an incident which happened exactly 6 months ago- the Bois Locker Room: an Instagram scandal, involving a chat room of teenage boys from Delhi. It started on May 3, 2020, when a member from the group leaked chats containing obscene images of 15 teenage girls.The controversy flared after screenshots of the leaked chats and morphed photos of young girls were posted on Instagram and Twitter.
Within a couple of days, the hashtag #boislockerroom was retweeted over 30,000 times. It is hard to imagine what the girls whose morphed photos spread throughout the internet have been compelled to go through. The unruly acts of these teenage boys can lead the survivors to go through unimaginable trauma for the rest of their lives.
One vital reason, definitely, is the prevalence of rape culture in schools. Members of the Bois Locker Room, said to be high school students from some of Delhi’s top schools, posted photos of teenage girls without their consent along with offensive comments. A number of conversations purportedly showed members talking about sexually assaulting their classmates, and even proposing the idea of gang-raping a particular underage girl.
It was later revealed that this initiator was the girl herself. This undoubtedly sparked fury about normalization of rape, misogyny and objectification in schools.Even teachers unknowingly or knowingly contribute to such toxic cultures and environment. According to social media accounts that posted the screenshots, members of “Bois Locker Room” threatened to leak nude photographs of the women who reported them. Thus, once again, social media became the platform where one can snatch the other’s sense of safety and comfort.
Like this incident, hundreds of underage students are on a frenzy to prove themselves the most ‘cool’, brave, and most masculine one of their group, thus leading to harassment of a hundred others. The first step to mend these, among many others, should be to create an environment in educational institutions, free of misogyny, rape culture, and sexist outlooks. Everyone has to take a part in that. Sex education must play a crucial role here. When children and adolescents are given correct information, they are in a better position to make responsible and safer choices for themselves.