Shutdown pill for troll trauma on social media

Boria Majumdar, author, Banned: A Social Media Trial, during the book launch event (Image: Joy Sengupta for RevSportz)

“We can’t put this beast back in the cage. So it’s important to understand this beast and treat it like it is,” said journalist and author Indrajit Hazra.

The ‘beast’ is social media, rather, the other side of it. How harrowing can trolling be? What about the scars left by it and is there any mechanism to stop it or cope with it? The pros and cons of using these platforms have been before us for a while now. The time has come to develop a holistic understanding of this issue and see how to stay away from the perils of these platforms.

A panel of distinguished speakers discussed this at the launch of Boria Majumdar’s book titled ‘Banned: A Social Media Trial’ in Kolkata on Tuesday. The journalist, scholar and researcher authored this book based on his experience of interacting with a cricketer and the subsequent sanctions and social media vitriol he had and his family had to endure.

The panel discussion was moderated by actor and comedian Mir Afsar Ali (Mir). Author and columnist Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, percussionist Bickram Ghosh, journalist and writer Nalin Mehta, Rohit Bansal of Reliance Corporate Services, sports editor of Dainik Jagran Abhishek Tripathi and Hazra were the speakers.

Calling social media a ‘kangaroo court’, Kundu narrated her experience of posting in Facebook on Salman Khan’s drunken driving controversy and saying that law should follow its own course. “Forget me, my mother and sister were not spared. They wrote anything they wanted to shame and defame us. We received death threats and rape threats. In the end, I was kicked out of Facebook. I suffered a borderline nervous breakdown,” said the writer of Status Single and other books.

Majumdar had a horrid experience. He was banned for two years. Having served it out, he has narrated his side of story, which is not known as much the cricketer’s. There were long periods when the troll army hurled abuse and insult to him and his family members, including his late father. The panellists said they have had bad experiences. Some of them said shutting down is the best option.

The Book Launch (Image: Joy Sengupta for RevSportz)

“I am active on social media, but I never post anything of consequence,” said Ghosh. “My posts are mostly about shows and meeting friends. I don’t write what I feel. There are many out there, prone to picking anything and making something out of it. I welcome criticism, but this is vitriolic and caustic. So, if there is controversy, I don’t address it.”

Saying that there is nothing ‘social’ about it, Tripathi felt switching off is more worthwhile. “They will create a perspective that suits them and keep trumpeting it. This is endless. One shouldn’t bother about what these people say. You won’t be able to focus on your work if you keep thinking about it,” said the journalist who has dealt with cricketers, administrators and fans over a long time.


Bansal welcomed Majumdar’s decision to present his version in a book instead of engaging in a slugfest using internet. “Strange things happen in social media. Some of it is nice, but there is also trolling. We are used to it. What Boria has done is remarkable. He has set an example that one must not accept defeat. That’s why this book is different,” he said.

Mehta was also of the opinion that not everything is bad. “If you look at Boria’s write-ups, they are special. When everybody writes about cricket, he chooses football and Olympic sports. As a scholar and journalist, he writes about the social history of sports. This should be appreciated on social media, but what we see a lot of times are visceral and extreme emotions.”

Hazra suggested a shutdown, because chances of success in fighting this are negligible. “There is this vast, unnamed and faceless mob out there. It gives them a sense of power and someone becomes someone else. There is no filter. Facing this with a Zen-like approach is not easy. So don’t treat it like gospel,” said Hazra.