Gone are the days when we relied on just one state run TV channel, waiting for the 9 o’clock news .The invasion of local news channels, more options in print media and — most consequential of all — social media have changed the whole scenario .Non-stop breaking news bulletins, along with the trends on Facebook and Twitter now keep updated 24/7. Even Whatsapp has become a source of information. There is no doubt that these modern mediums have created awareness about human rights, the rule of law and taught people how to access a certain legal mechanisms, but at the same they have also caused a deterioration of ethical values. There has been an ongoing debate on freedom of expression, right along with one focused on censorship policies. Article 19 of the 1973 Constitution does refer to freedom of expression for every citizen being subject to conditional and reasonable restrictions imposed by law and to protect religious sentiments and national security interests.Sadly, it seems we have forgotten rights come with responsibilities. There are many recent examples of the ‘freedom of expression’ slogan being used to protect hate speech. This was how the Maulana Khadim Rizvi was able to get away with spewing hate and defaming state institutions for days during the Faizabad sit-in.Children should be allowed to actively participate in family discussions so they can learn to express themselves in a controlled mannerThis has been exhibited in today’s TV talk shows as well. Though PTV still conducts itself with some decency, private media houses seem to be in the business of promoting street fights. The race for ratings motivates them to get into personal matters which are completely unrelated to the issues being discussed. Some years ago, one could not imagine people getting away with using the kind of language guests use on these shows. Then there are political leaders’ press conferences which come with allegations of character assassinations and the subsequent trends on social media. Recently, a particular book received a lot of attention on social media. It was a book filled with a married couple’s personal information. Excerpts from the book were used to generate sickening debates on news channels and social media. Is this the kind of society we have become?What are we lacking that we have been brought to this low point? Was our society simply introduced to these modern media sources before it was ready for them? Is it that our society and particularly our educational institutions — all the way from grade school to university — give students such little room for self-expression that it resulted in an explosion of pent up emotions once our people finally got access to social media? It could also be the lack of emphasis our educational institutions (this includes our madaris and religious leaders as well) put on civic ethics. Freedom of expression without any concern for human dignity would be a disaster for any society. The family unit also has a role to play here. Children should be allowed to actively participate in family discussions so they can learn to express themselves in a controlled manner. Educational institutions should follow a similar suite. The state has to redefine what freedom of expression is, and of course, it has to do so without suppressing the voice of its citizens.The writer has experience in the field of education and is currently working as a resource person in the development sectorPublished in Daily Times, July 17th 2018.