In the past six months I ran a social experiment on one of my WhatsApp group of ex-class-fellows. Like all other Pakistani whatsapp groups, in this group the hot topic was politics. And like all other political discussion forums, there was perpetual heated debate between the the two subgroups on the issue of corruption. I joined the group pretty late. It existed for past few years.
This is a very select group with less than a dozen active members. Two of the persons in the group holding PhDs , one teaching in Pakistan another teaching in Middle East both senior professors. Four active members living in Canada for past 20 years having senior level jobs.
One person living in USA, again well-to-do. Three people living in Pakistan excluding the PhD, they also on senior government position & one of then having good business. Two more persons living in UK. Unfortunately there is no female in this group. Such is a typical group of urban educated lot of Pakistan.
There were battle lines drawn in this group. 24 hours you’ll find one set of people sharing those social media posts from twitter & WhatsApp, the other set of people commenting on them. Then the other set bringing another post and the first commenting on them. There were few inactive members who will rarely post something, usually asking the two groups to remain friends & cool down.
When I joined the group I was supposed to take sides. Either on the what is PTI group aka ‘anti-corruption’ or PML-N aka ‘anti-establishment’, luckily they didn’t know my views very well, except that most of them knew about liberal tendencies (drinking, reading literature etc). I wanted to run this social experiment, so I waited for couple of weeks and then in response to take the sides I declared that I don’t see any sides in this group. You guys are all saying the same things. It was kind of a shock to all of them. They were sworn “enemies” each of them thinking the other is “donkey”, “stupid”, “jahil”, “traitor” etc. Declaring all of them same was no good. They had declared each other directly or indirectly all of the above. They were not happy with me and wanted to prove that how both groups can be saying the same thing while they are so opposite to each other. In fact as you can guess, the more “intellectuals” belonged to “anti-establishment” , the richer living in North America/UK belonged to “anti-corruption” group, and both were furious on the possibility of saying of same thing.
Over the next six months, I ran this experiment, doing a synthesis of all their debates. And as you might guess my posts myth busters. Busting myths like:
1. Corruption is a menace
2. Sindhis are jahil
3. Baloch are backward
4. Saraikis are slaves
4. Bhuttos are the most corrupt.
5. Takfiri Islam is peaceful religion.
6. Sufi Islam is shirk and worst than takfiri Islam.
7. Military establishment is united.
Within six months, everyone realized that they agreed on all of the above, I did not bust a single myth for them but they all realized that they actually agree on all of the above points, and then those sworn enemies were so happy to get together and support each other in the debate on all of the above and tag me on the posts proving me wrong.