Social media has become ‘weapon of mass distraction’, says Bombay HC judge

Social media or mass media have become weapons of mass distraction, but there are no concerted efforts yet to tackle them, Justice Mahesh Sonak of the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court said on Saturday.

Addressing the students of G R Kare College of Law in Margao town during a lecture series ‘GRK-Law Talks’, Justice Sonak also said that he prefers to remain “uninformed” about several issues by not reading or seeing the news, which he thinks is “better than being misinformed”.

“Today, we live in an age where we adore and glorify machines like computers and smartphones that think. But we are extremely suspicious or even wary of the human beings that attempt to think,” he said.

“Artificial intelligence has its own merits, but it would be a sad day and sad world if we were to mortgage our ability to think, our ability to make intelligent and, moreover, sensitive choices, to a machine or an algorithm, however intelligent it may be,” Justice Sonak said.

“We should not want to atrophy our thinking faculties lest there is no difference between a human being and a machine. We cannot, or at least we should not, let humankind be robbed of its humanity,” he added.

Justice Sonak said that this capacity to think clearly, independently and fearlessly would enable a student to sift, discern, and, if necessary, reject the ideas and ideologies that are perpetually inflicted by mass media tools that are growing powerful each hour.

“A few decades ago, the world was at war against WMDs – weapons of mass destruction. Today, social media or the mass media have become weapons of mass distraction and yet there are no concerted efforts to battle them,” he opined.

The judge said that in his own way, by way of experimentation, he has been on a “news diet” for almost four years.

“By not reading or seeing the news, I realise that I am uninformed about several issues. But I guess this is better than being misinformed. So, the choice, often, is between uninformed and misinformed,” he added.

President of Vidya Vikas Academy Nitin Kunkolienkar, Vice President Pritam Moraes and Principal of the college Doretti Simoes were present at the event.

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