At the start of 90’s , I must admit that I was literally a naïve soul who thought had all answers to the latest current affairs and news as it happened around the world. For me, the daily dose of media news were the cable and satellite English news channels and the daily morning newspapers which were more of classifieds, page 3 articles and tabloids than actual news. The content across both print and media was primarily centered around State and National politics, sports ( 90% cricket) and entertainment ( Bollywood only), with major channels and dailies specialising in them. The World to me was not beyond India, I still recall getting to know of going on’s around the globe in bits and pieces, with programs like the “World this week” on NDTV, and with beaming’s from the BBC and CNN. The content on our channels and the print media was and is unfortunately, still focused on politics and mis-happenings, stories of crime, criminals, Bollywood and sleaze.
At times, it made me wonder as to why does our dose of news and the media houses, not focus on giving us news on progressive developmental work, on achievers, on people who have delivered from nowhere, on projects which will change our lives, on information which we should tell our kids, talk about science, history, etc.? The answer unfortunately is because all the “Good, informational, educational, scientific and relevant content and news” does not make commercial sense. Fed with hate, crime, politics and violence, day in and day out, dished onto our breakfast and beamed into our bedrooms, we and our DNA have become used to absorb and grow with the “Commercial news and content”. We inherently and unfortunately, love to hear about news and content which is “sensationalist, political, juicy and full of hate”, and this is because our media has injected this into our DNA.
Secondly, apart from me being fed with commercial content, I felt and knew I was growing inward and regional in my thought process and up-bringing. I was getting insular and polarized since the news and content was not focused on anything beyond the district, state and country. Again, our dear cable and print media felt it did not make any sense to talk and inform dear readers about Roger Federer winning his 20th Grand Slam at the age of 36, defying all odds, than doling our print after print of irrelevant fringe groups tearing posters of a historical movie at a nearby cinema hall on a topic they themselves did not have a clue about.
Summarily, I was definitely growing up in a world wherein few media houses dominated our thinking, reading and consumption habits, and they were definitely not doing a good job by keeping us insular, polarized and inward looking.
All this changed for good starting with the digital revolution brought onto our business and homes by good old Internet in 2000’s. By as early as 2004, Internet giants like Facebook, Google, Yahoo had revolutionized Internet from being a purely business and Governmental informational network to one for the masses. Social media revolution was taking place as early as 2005-07 with the likes of You Tube and Twitter being launched. One could now stream content, update latest videos, shoot incidents, connect and follow with the people who made the news. Media houses which dominated and colored our minds with the news and content they wanted to broadcast were suddenly getting marginalized. The consumer at last was becoming the King. He could now decide the news he wanted to see and follow. Social media has brought in a revolution which has the power to trigger and influence people’s opinions. So powerful is the reach and influence of this media that the World of today is indeed becoming “Flat”. Just to give you all a small example, our movies today do higher business in markets like China, Middle East and Africa than in our own country. Shocked! Surprised! Well that’s true. Our Film stars travel to Dubai on a Thursday for a film release and on the weekends to Americas since they are becoming bigger markets than our very own country. All this is because of Social Media which not only influences and educates, it drives consumption, behavior and habits. The best marketers launch brands on Social media, companies have their own Social media handles and pages, conventional news print and media companies release news first on their twitter and you tube channels and then on to the conventional media. The world of today is connected by the minute, informed to the second and getting to be a flatter, outward looking society which shuns taboos, kills sensationalist and wrong ideologies and celebrates freedom. Ahoy to the power of social media !
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