A quick glance at Twitter trends this morning showed an ‘aspiring’ starlet, a promotion for an upcoming movie with a ‘mega’ star, a much hyped ‘Taxi Company’ which is desperately trying to defend its myopic thinking by blaming government policy for its recent troubles, as trending! Even before I could finish my thought on where are we headed as the social media community, my thoughts were abruptly interrupted by a colleague who said “Don’t even go there. We are fine the way we are, not everything needs to have a cause, not everything needs to be intellectual and definitely, not everything, needs to be grandiose”. Boom! Your thought went that a ways; out of that window, many floors below. I could hear a sniggering nerve cell thinking exactly that, somewhere deep in a crevice, in the right half of my brain.
I could see frantic efforts from the logical side of my brain cells, trying to put up arguments. Of course, all this happening, well within the small, limited and cozy confines of my cranium. I could see through my mind’s eye, the logical side was trying to put together, a battery of highly experienced nerve cells whose arguments went something like this. “Aren’t we a community of progressive, sensitive and intelligent people? Aren’t we the ones who wanted change? Aren’t we the ones who want to inflict societal change by our thought and actions? Weren’t we the enthusiastic ones who jumped on to the bandwagon because in the real world we probably didn’t wield too much power? And the real world power mongers haven’t discovered this utopia called social media?”
Yuk! That sounded so lame even to me. What that’s horrible taste in the back of my mouth! Ok granted, not everything needs to be intellectual, not everything has to have deep insights or meaning which one can ruminate as intellectual conversation over a couple of pegs of well made single malt whiskey. But then “in my mind” I was clear the media had to evolve. Perhaps, in the absence of a credible fifth estate, we the people need to take over the mantle and play the forces of influence.
And for that to happen, we can’t trivialize and belittle information and news. I remember my conversation with the editorial team of a leading newspaper who at that point in time, were in a quandary over whether or not to follow social media stories as a part of news in their newspaper. After all, the trending stories in social media, in many ways represented popular sentiment, right? I remember telling them that the big difference between worlds of print, television or even radio and social media was that in other media you have a bunch of people with a sense of propriety and a good sense of what’s right and what’s not. For the purposes of this piece, let’s call them editors. These editors play such a crucial role in scrutinizing what goes into the public domain. As a result, a lot of what we see, read and hear in the public domain is not ‘sensational’ or ‘disturbing’ enough to cause trouble.
But on the other hand, with social media that’s not the case. You and I, my friend, we are media in ourselves. Through our comments, through our blogs, through our complaints, raves, rants we are influencing people, especially friends and family. They take our word a lot more seriously than perhaps, that of an editor of a newspaper. Each one of us needs to play a role of an editor. We need to figure, decipher and then share with people what is good, what is sensible and more importantly stuff that’s ‘intellectual’, stuff that opens the mind. This is important, if not we will hit the abyss sooner than we think. We owe it to all the people around us. After all, there hasn’t been a piece of technology that has unified us or empowered us in manner like this, ever!
This is where I give you the license to pull out your daggers. Imagine if our filmmakers had taken a stance, say a few decades ago, not to plagiarize or rehash trash in the trashiest fashion, what a society we could have been! Imagine if somebody had put the portrayal of women over commercial gains, imagine if more filmmakers stood by quality of writing, quality of songs and everything else, I dare stick my neck out and say we would have been a much, much better society today, who wouldn’t have spent time reading about how women have to fight gender biases every day or see them doing unnecessary things to trend on social media.