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    Traumatized and Online: What Feeds the Cycle of Violence in Afghanistan

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    More than half of the posts that Afghans publish on Facebook are dedicated to violence and cruelty. Ruhollah Rizvani, a psychologist and a lecturer at the Kabul University, told Sputnik in an interview about the results of his research into the underlying reasons behind this high index.

    Social media posts with photos depicting scenes of cruelty and with captions calling for violence tell us two things, the specialist explained. First of all, there is a place for hatred in relationship between people, both in the virtual world and in real life.

    "This hatred takes root in the quality of life of the population's vast majority. People live in a state of permanent depression, which is related to the inability to attain self-realization in their families or professional lives. Afghans explain personal failures as being the result of their government's insufficient efforts to change the unfavorable economic situation and put an end to the war," Rizvani said.

    People's dissatisfaction grows into aggression towards others, which is often expressed in the form of protests on social media. As a result, personal profiles become a place for "a cry from the heart."

    Secondly, the violent thoughts expressed through social media reflect the sad reality that people witness every day, the psychologist noted. Terror attacks and the obscene acts of various militant groups embitter people and determine the nature of how they respond.

    "In fact, violence begets violence. Unfortunately, talking about Afghanistan, we cannot say that the presence of the individual in the cruel surroundings prompts him to break out of this circle," he added.

    "Imagine a teenager who suffered the mental shock of seeing a massacre with his own eyes. No matter who committed it and who was killed, as an integral part of society, the teenager withdraws into himself. An implacable hatred of the government which allowed this horror to occur grows inside of him. Without realizing it, he accepts the side of the terrorists, reflecting their activities on Facebook. This is how the circle closes."

    As a result, one of these two factors produces the third one. Publications become the real "guidebook" for the fragile minds, instructing them how to spawn the violence. People absorb extremist ideas while looking through a huge number of photos and discussions accompanying them.

    How can anyone break out of this vicious circle? According to Rizvani, everyone should realize that he is a member of society, and communicating via social networks burdens him with a certain responsibility.

    "The individual must be aware that he is not given the moral right to turn others to his ‘faith in violence.' In addition, he should feel the line between violence and nonviolence," the specialist told Sputnik.

    "If someone aims to prevent the violence, he or she needs to think through the delivery of information thoroughly. Everyone, whether a user of social networks or not, should be aware that the protest may harm others if it is ‘incorrect' from a psychological point of view," he concluded.


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