On Safer Internet Day today, which is observed worldwide annually to advocate a safer and more responsible use of online technology, Zee Theatre stars hold forth on the way the internet can be both a blessing and a bane.
The internet is a space where they can amplify their views, discuss their projects and stay connected with their fans and during the pandemic, it also facilitated creative outpouring. But can it be made safer for a healthier public discourse?
Actor Vivaan Shah who reads Munshi Premchand’s ‘Gulli Danda’ in Zee Theatre’s literary anthology ‘Koi Baat Chale’ says, “There is no getting away from the internet as the media and entertainment industry is driven by technology. Technology has also democratised the distribution of art and entertainment but we must regulate how we use the internet. Like any other thing, it must be consumed in moderation and it should come with the kind of a statutory warning you find on cigarette packets.”
Karanveer Mehra who stars in ‘Lights Out’ says, “Technology is transforming the way content is distributed and consumed. Internet has connected the entire world and encouraged just about anyone with a smartphone and a camera to think out of the box and create content or audition for a part. At the same time, spreading hate on the internet is easier than spreading love. We need to change this mentality and be more generous towards our fellow humans. We should not weaponise hashtags or tweets and when we become more responsible online, then the internet will automatically become a much safer space.”
Sadiya Siddiqui who narrated Sadat Hasan Manto’s story ‘Hatak’ in ‘Koi Baat Chale’ says, “OTT platforms have empowered independent makers who earlier had to battle the star system and had no place to screen unusual stories. On the flipside, we have online toxicity. We do have cybercrime units but force does not inspire change. It only provokes people to find different ways to spread hate. It is more important to take individual responsibility and to also raise your kids to be mindful. Today every child has a phone and despite parental locks, you cannot curtail their digital time. This is why it is more important than ever to inculcatesensitivity in children so that they don’t post negative things online.”
Joy Sengupta who stars in Zee Theatre’s teleplay ‘Dance Like a Man’ adds, “Internet has shrunk the world and now you can carry all forms of information and entertainment in your palm. It has brought with its unprecedented accessibility, opportunity and inter connectedness. But on the flip side, we have the fear of over exposure, lack of privacy, reduced social interaction, dwindling community participation and negative impact on children’s natural cognitive ability. The only way we can make the internet safer is by self-censorship and self-awareness. Let us learn to distinguish myths from history, news from propaganda and manufactured lies from truth.”