Actors in a state of play | By Haya Fatima Sehgal


Actors in a state of play

WHEN we first heard of a local actress apparently with the same name (and spelling), my friends found it amusing as she put up posts about her filmography.

Millions share name worldwide so why would it be any different even if a person with mine shared mostly the opposite of things I opined upon.

However, when the account turned to spew a vitriol of anti-government, anti-police and incendiary posts even supporting extremism is when one was a bit startled.

First at the viciousness of the posts against authorities, western countries, diplomats and the other was the fact that there was little less acting and more politics going on there.

A cursory glance at social media one realized there were many other more powerful voices doing just about the same. I understand when influencers and celebrities turn to politics.

I am also aware when names such as Greta, Malala and others make commentaries on social causes – on those I am in full support.

We have a famous Cricketer turned philanthropist and now the current Prime Minister of Pakistan respectfully so.

There have been many others in history before them to do so.
Actors turn their social media into commentaries on social justice, government decisions, environment and even economics and cultural issues. They have opinions and so do we.

They have better podiums to speak from. Their voices can truly take forward a good cause.

However, when it comes to maligning one’s own country by highlighting the negative or only incendiary posts inciting protests or hyping up a situation, one must step back and analyze things properly- and the person.

It also goes as far as what we term as the ‘social worker agents’ as they jump onto each and every bandwagon propagating ‘activism’ only to issue sweeping false statements against the Pakistan Army or authorities.

These people have unfortunately made a place for themselves into the fabric of society as they take up social causes, gaining a foothold through sympathetic causes and fan following.

Many people have used their podiums and their positions to make positive change. However, there are distinctions on who is making changes for the good and who have hidden agendas.

And when this turns into a malicious propaganda fest that is where one becomes wary as to who is an actor on stage and who is behind that stage feeding the problem. Or better still what Disinfo media cell had been set up for hybrid warfare.

It is a known fact that entire media cell units have been established just to spurt out bad news and this is not just in politics.

It is now being called out even by international watchdogs. The EU Disinfo report should have been an indicator.

However, it is difficult for the average civilian to discern between what is just propaganda and misinformation, pontificated from propped up stages with scripts given to read. Or what is truly an active call for justice and better systems of governance.

People have the right to an opinion. However, in a world now fraught with fake news and so much turmoil, we must be cautious.

We suddenly seem to have self-proclaimed politicians, lawmakers, educationists even self-proclaimed medics and what not. Misinformation is their mainstay.

For my own part, I must resign myself to hearing nonsensical political viewpoints from a namesake account.

Well, they have their place and a (small) fan following and I have my place to write as a journalist about topics of concern.

May we just settle on agreeing to disagree on how to handle conversations on world issues quite differently from each other!
—The writer, based in Islamabad, is known for her articles on cultural impact.