The girl in Nepal, the so-called tarkariwali, a vegetable seller, whose photo was snapped by a photographer and put on the social media, which promptly went on to break the net as people went wild over her looks, may not have personally found the attention welcome. The girl lives in an isolated place, and the social rules there may be strict and orthodox and having your photo splashed on the social media may well bring unwelcome consequences. So, this begs the question: how ethical was it for her photo to be used in the way it was? No physical harm was meant, but history is filled with unintended consequences and people have been harmed in many ways. This has not happened in the present case, but there are problems and they must be faced – boldly.
However, faulting the photographer or the media for playing up the girl’s photo is all above board. There are a billion and more photos likely taken on a daily basis and very few make it to the public sphere and even lesser get to be viral. No one really knows what will grab global attention. This photo managed to be one that really went viral. When that happens, as it has happened with the tarkariwali, there are no real villains in the piece.
This is the nature of the beast in the new digitally enabled world and everyone must learn to accept or, or at least deal with it. There is no going back. One just hopes that people deal with events in a civilised manner.