Expert Speak Raisina Debates
Published on May 11, 2020
Covid19: The birth of a new power

The spread of the pandemic has led to the increase in the use of the internet, more particularly social media platforms, , resulting in telecom companies doubling their profits because of the unprecedented boom in their business, at a time when other economic activities fell into recession, some even came to a standstill.

Everyone remembers that before the Covid-19 outbreak, the topics covered by the users of social media platforms were dominated by the promotion of leading consumer brands, beauty and fashion news, technical innovations, and celebrity gossip, thus overshadowing the topics related to the environment, health, and social and cultural dilemmas. Today, no effort is needed to notice the near absence of talks focusing on fashion and various kinds of commercial goods, as these were strongly superseded by exchanges on epidemics, medical research and scientific innovations that would combat this pandemic, in parallel with increasing debates on the future of humanity, the future of human relations, and human rights as related to health care, environment, access to knowledge, and the free exchange of information. Since the end of 2010, there has been a far-reaching debate in the UN Human Rights Council on freedom in digital platforms. At the time, the international community failed to reach a consensus on regulating individuals’ use of the Internet, amid opposition from some countries and reservations from others regarding Internet freedom. Therefore, the most salient question that will arise after moving out of the Corona crisis is: Will the human and social content during the time of the pandemic as mentioned in previous articles, pervade talks on social media platforms in the future, or will the general trend be dominated again by the business-driven nature, in terms of the prevalence of international brands, arms trade, and talks around wars, instead of promoting human rights to sound health and clean environment, and the right of peoples to access science and technology? There is very little doubt that human beings, and the world at large, are expected to undergo major transformations after the eradication of this pandemic, as highlighted by various studies and opinion polls. A frantic struggle will thus emerge on whether to preserve the same spaces of freedom that the COVID-19 crisis has opened on the Web, or to return to the same rules of the game in all areas, as was the case before the pandemic. A number of studies have shown that, for the first time in human history, a single word was used several times during a day by people throughout the world, namely and quite obviously "Covid-19", as related to health, environment, decent housing, etc. It is clear that attention has become strongly focused on the right to life, which is the cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as all the relevant covenants and conventions. Will this intensive use of social media platforms and other spaces that allow for free discussion of the human rights system, especially the right to life and the rights arising therefrom such as the right to health, decent housing, education, freedom of expression, etc., prompt the international community into recognizing the power of the virtual world and the influence of its surfers? Will it force the international community to bringing international and national legislations in line with such rights, or will it continue to generate and promote mediocrity and nonsense, as was clearly shown by the Canadian writer Alain Deneault in his book "Mediocracy: The Politics of the Extreme Centre".

We will thus be doomed, once again, to spreading the culture of consumption and acceptance of economic, political and cultural systems that perpetuate mediocrity, platitude, and vulgarity. However, the decisive answer to this question will be known soon, in the post epidemic period.

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