Sania Mirza-Shoaib Malik Divorce Coverage Highlights Deeper Social Malaise

The Sania Mirza divorce has been the talk of social media for two days now. Even since Shoaib Malik posted news of his recent marriage, comments have flooded every social media platform. So much so that the Mirza family eventually had to issue a statement requesting privacy. This issue demonstrates what social media is all about. Flippant and unwarranted intrusiveness into celebrity lives, in the guise of being a necessary evil of our times.

The divorce is a very personal matter between two people. Just like the marriage was, so is the divorce. How and why anyone in the outside world feels they need to comment is beyond me. Is it just because Sania is a celebrity and an attractive woman who has always garnered media attention, or is it because Malik is a Pakistani? Whatever the case, it is a matter between two consenting adults who have now parted ways. Frankly, the matter should have ended there.

Sania is a celebrity for her tennis. That’s what is in the public realm, and that’s what people can comment on. Now, as a commentator, she will surely draw in opinionated fans who would want judge her skills behind the microphone. But her marriage, to Malik or anyone else, isn’t remotely relevant to any of these men and women who don’t know Sania personally.

The worst thing about social media is the sense of entitlement it breeds. Just because Sania is on Twitter, she has to answer the twitterati based on questions she is asked. There is nothing private or personal anymore, and these faceless bots have unilaterally decided to become Sania’s protectors in the aftermath of the divorce. The truth is she doesn’t need their protection. Always a very upright and opinionated woman, Sania will do what she likes and what her family believes in. Social media has no role whatsoever, and it is this simple truth that is beyond the comprehension of many men and women on X.

They are the new moral police, a role played by fundamentalist political parties in the past. What the Mirza affair highlights is a deep social malaise. Everyone is now an expert on every matter just because they have access to a smartphone, and 140 characters that can be typed in a minute and posted at the press of a button. While trying to side with Sania, some have even had the temerity to question her choice of marrying a Pakistani!

Now, if Sania decides to move on and remarry, it can be conjectured that the social-media junkies will yet have a field day. While it is none of their business, we will soon see the moral police in action.

That’s where there is need for mediation. A need to draw the line. To crack down on abuse. Allowing anything and everything to pass in the name of free speech has eroded  the importance of social media and made it an obnoxious, trivial and sensationalist domain.

Time then to listen to Sania, the tennis commentator, and steer well clear of her personal space. She has moved on, and so should each one who wishes to take an interest in the issue.

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