Melodrama of social media

Traditional media should know that the nation does not wish to know anything, it already knows everything
"For instance, about two decades ago, we couldn’t have imagined communicating intercontinentally in a matter of seconds through video-calling or messaging."
"For instance, about two decades ago, we couldn’t have imagined communicating intercontinentally in a matter of seconds through video-calling or messaging." Maxpixle [Creative Commons]

Abraham Maslow gave us the theory of basic needs that include the need for food, safety, love and self-esteem. However, technology gave us media, which eclipsed all humanist theories and became as indispensable as our daily needs. In today’s world, the media plays an unprecedented role in shaping public opinion and empowering society. It is rightly said that media has the power to make or break. It can make someone look like a hero, yet at the same time make someone seem like a nobody.

Before, it was said that children are the builders of a nation. They are its future. In recent years, media influence has dispensed with this theory, giving rise to a narrative that says media determines a country’s course. A glimpse into a nation’s media will give you an accurate picture of the prevailing mindset of its people if you wish to look at its overall progress.

Dissemination of Information and communication technology has changed rapidly over the past 20 years, with a key development being the emergence of social media. Despite the fact that media is there, there is a good chance that it will survive due to an audience that knows the difference between selling and marketing. In any case, the growing impact of social media cannot be ignored, as it is a new form of media that has clipped the wings of traditional media. Indeed, it is media without borders. While media reached into our drawing rooms, social media has invaded our bedrooms, leaving no room for people to breathe as this third eye is relentlessly pursuing us.

Although traditional media gives voice to the voiceless, social media gives voice to the already loud and vociferous. In the same way that traditional media empowers society, social media empowers individuals to the point that they can name and shame anyone they want out of petty grudges or to gain likes for indecent posts. They do not spare the lives of their loved ones in this maniacal race for likes. The need for acknowledgment, the desire for power, the shows off of achievements, vying for attention, and “who is the happiest” are the only mantras of social media. In general, it is a platform where you show the sunny side of yourself and the shadowed side of others. People make money out of outrageous posts, but getting likes on posts is not a yeoman’s job unless your work is research-based, knowledge-based, or inspirational in some way. In fact, most social media users are not well read people or, if they are, they don’t want to work hard, so they use a cheap and utterly unscrupulous method to gain quick likes. They post raunchy, immodest, gross content that grabs attention, and Voila! You’ve got your content. It is at the expense of someone’s respect, peace of mind, even life, that they earn income. There are a number of examples where people have been named and shamed without even confirming the authenticity and credibility of such fake and incredulous stuff.

In spite of all this melodrama that social media is pushing us to, its popularity is still on rise while traditional media has taken a back seat, despite of the fact that its more accurate and reliable. The reasons could be several, like social media is two way conversation, less scope for the creator and more space for the audience, while traditional is one way conversation. Social media is prompt while traditional media is delayed due to press time .

Social media is a new entrant in the field of communication revolution , while traditional media is there from centuries. Psychologically, people in these circumstances tend to change their loyalities e.g they switch from old to new in order to see the difference between the later and former .. In this they may not hesitate to take the risk. While in the process they simply follow the rot , because they now have a choice.

Social media versus traditional media should not be viewed as Coke vs Pepsi or Macdonald vs Burger King. “Its not about the silliness of digital/new media VERSUS analog/traditional media. It’s not about the rise (or supremacy) of one media category and the demise of the other. It’s about ethically and strategically taking advantage of the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of any media combination that makes the most sense in the service of establishing cooperation between organizations and their publics.”, says Peter Smudde, a researcher.

The role of traditional media is crucial and important in this context. In order to gain an audience, it has to emerge from its shell. Being laid back and expecting things to fall into place on their own would not get anything accomplished. Instead of concentrating on and engaging in useless debates, it has to play a greater role in impacting the lives of people instead of being a parrot endorsing the statements of politicians. Its role goes well beyond sponsored speeches that only impede its growth. It’s not social media that needs to be changed, it’s traditional media that needs to be altered. It should be able to add value to people’s lives and not negatively impact their reputations like social media.

Whether it is a prestigious institution or a prestigious industry, this institution must rethink and relearn. As opposed to joining the bandwagon of few damn good sellers, it should learn, the nation does not wish to know anything, it already knows everything, however, it will not put up with apologies when a soul is lost in the name of TRPs....

(The author is Bureau Chief of a Jammu based daily Newspaper)

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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