social media warping truth

In India, it’s Diwali, the festival of lights and irresponsible wastage of electricity and clean air. So, a picture like this, claiming the indisputable halls of NASA as the original source, is pretty easy to swallow.

With the frenzy of social media, we rarely question anything these days–We see a tiny little pinhead on a body wide enough to fill our computer screen and we are quick marvel at the oddity rather than the power of Photoshop. Really! Where have all our antennas gone? The ones that perked up every time anyone came close to insulting our intelligence?

I’m glad for people like this guy who keep us reined in the realm of reality and common sense. Here’s what he says about the Diwali lights claimed to be a NASA photograph:


An idea took form that the picture was an illumination of the country on Diwali night. Of course most people related the distinct, yellow, green and red dots to the colors of fireworks.  When it popped on my wall ( as the 950th share) I immediately questioned that Colombo(Sri Lanka), Lahore (Pakistan) and Delhi could not be celebrating divali with the same ‘illumination’. (Some even speculated these were the remnants of Hindu legacies in these cities!) Also why would people in certain areas burst green colored fireworks when the rest of the country was bursting yellow.

Leave that, it was easy to explain the map if one understood some   development parameters and grade school geography of the region ( Electrical Connectivity and Population Density, Location of the cities, Mountains).

So I decided to question how could the illumination be different from any other night (when the Power grid hadn’t failed)? I commented with my reservations on the wall of the friend who had shared this with me. Seeing some merit in my reservations, he digged the original source of the picture and indeed found it had nothing to do with Divali. He found the original source on FB itself, when someone else like me ( a friend of a friend of his) had commented on their common friend’s share of this post with similar concerns and found this link.

But our counter-currents are far and few between. That they are the complete truth does not matter . As I write, the Indian diaspora on Facebook believes that the map is indeed a NASA picture clicked on a Divali evening. I am sure in a few hours when Indians wake up this ‘socially constructed truth’ will spread further and more widely. ( See my updatetracking the numbers)



  1. Thanks for pointing this out to people! Make sure we do our best to at least inform people! Today it was a harmless picture, tomorrow it can be anything – say a wrong picture of an unwanted criminal!

  2. Maybe it isn’t what it appears to be but it did remind me of what a great time we had celebrating Diwali over 20 years in Bharat Mata.

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