My mother and I were in constant conversation over the phone debating on the hoaxed earthquake. She heard that it was going to be bigger than the Nepal earthquake and since our house was in bad shape from the last earthquake she has decided to abandon it and sleep in the kitchen garden instead. She saw the people in neighbouring villages pitching tents in their fields. The hoax has created such mass panic in rural areas.
I told my mother that if His Holiness the Je Khenpo really had a vision of such a natural calamity befalling his people, more than anybody, his compassionate self would inform the nation and not some fool on WeChat.
I asked her, "Would the government leave us in the dark instead of evacuating us to safety?"
"Would I let you stay in that unsafe house all by yourself?"
"How could you believe some random people and not me?"
It was hard but I could convince her like I have done several times in the past. This wasn't the first wave of fear that swept across my village
The magnitude of fear and panic the hoax has created among our rural population is beyond forgivable limit. It has gone deep into the simple lives of people and disturb their peace. What do people get from doing this? Who are they? It cannot be one person but a chain of ignorant people who believed in it themselves and then shared their fear. It is a very serious offence and I hope theses people will be traced and punished.
And more than anything we need to find a permanent solution to this repetitive problem of mass panic created by hoax, because if a salt shortage hoax could cause market to inflate salt price and people to hoard salt then anything is possible.
The mobile app WeChat, which took internet access to rural population has now become a platform for newer evils, from sharing porn to racial jokes to hoax. With its ease of use and reach new hoaxes can do massive damage. What will be the next bad thing people will do on this platform?