Ram P Dwivedi
(Tokyo University of Foreign Studies)
The wheel of history is moving very fast. The pace of social change is beyond our imagination. Mass media played a vital and decisive role to brought out this change. Since the beginning of the modern era print and broadcast media changed the life and thought of common people. The scientific temperament of people and their faith in democracy developed because of persuasive approach of media for these issues. We are now an altogether changed nation which we were hundred or hundred and twenty years ago. This happened because of various media in one manner or the other tried to do so. However a profit motive cannot be ignored in this whole process. Now a days print media and electronic media both are in severe grip of capitalism. To increase their circulation, newspapers and magazines choose to publish such a topic which caters a very very small top elite class. It neither provides a quality entertainment nor a good kind of information. Likewise media channels do the same type of job to encash TRP. More circulation and more TRP ensures more advertisements and more profit as well. These programmes carry sensuous and sensational contents which do not contribute to bring any transformation.
Cricket, crime, cinema, politics and spicy content dominate our telecasts. The pressure of TRP corrupted our telecasts and most of the TV channels in one way or the other follow the same kind of formula for their programme production. TV is a very useful and productive medium for the country like India which is poor and illiterate. Developmental issues have been totally ignored in our TV broadcasts and undesired programmes have replaced them. In this situation people and minds who think about society to develop and society to change do not find any place to express their ideas, views and motives. These conditions initiated and propagated to intellectual minds to switch over to a new medium. Now it is almost organized and functioning like an alternative medium. Blogging, social networks(SNS), chat groups etc. are its various forms. It has created an alternative society with different kind of etiquettes and with no geographical boundary. A new form, microblogging, is now more popular and shaking our daily thoughts. Facebook and Twitter are very common and even main stream media is now taking help of these SNSs to popularise their programs. Microblogging needs a separate and detailed analysis, so I am leaving it for now.
In 1977 John Berger used a term weblog for the internet based logs written by individuals at almost no cost. The term weblog, for the same, was abbreviated as Blog by Peter Merholz in the year 1999 which is now widely used and acceptable to all. Social networking is also known as microblogging. Blogging is a form of internet media which disseminate information, message, views and ideas through computers and their network. Computers are linked together via a telephone cable or any other kind of connecting instrument. It costs a little to transmit data. Ideas, views, images, sound and even a video or a movie can easily be transferred from one place to other without consideration of geographical distance. Now most of the cities and towns are connected through internet and hence the blogging has also gain momentum in these areas. However a big constrain is arising in rural areas where computer affordability and presence of internet connectivity are not in good condition. The power supply in these remote areas is also not sufficient to run computer continuously for seven to eight hours a day. Software engineers and mechanics to repair and maintain computer software and hardware are very few and incompetent. It also discourages internet connectivity in rural areas. In spite of all these constrains and limitations internet communication is spreading day by day. Bloggers and expression hungry people also trying to get rid of these hurdles and creating their own resources to overcome these problems.
Thus all sphere of life coming closer to each other.
Blogging, by its capability of economical transmission of information and cultural products, is now becoming popular among youths, intellectuals, social activists and entrepreneurs. Social networking, a form of micro blogging, has added strength to it. Facebook, Myspace and Twitter etc have created a parallel way and technique to get in touch with friends, colleagues, clients and peers. Let us understand how our society is changing and reorganizing itself in this context.
Remember those days when in case of an urgency a few textual words were transmitted through wire and at a very heavy charge. Then came the mobile revolution with SMS services. Our communication became smoother. Now we are a connected society. Sharing information, trade details, feelings and thoughts has become so easy that it changed our relationship altogether. We are moving towards paperless society. In metros most of our data storage is in electronic form. Now we do not keep our important letters in almirah or drawer but in our mail inbox. We play games and read books electronically. All these changes, alongwith the process of globalization, has formed an alternative society which uses cyberspace for discussion, deliberation and debate on issues which are not properly addressed by so called mainstream media. The members participating in these discussions proudly call themselves as netizens.
A new space parallel to our physical world has been created to work, share and relate our ideas and also to love and hate each other. An average net user spends two to three hours a day for e-mailing, blogging and social networking. A socially networked society has emerged which acts, behaves and works in a different manner. The member of this society are geographically separated and globally scattered but emotionally close to each other. They talk, discuss and share their views amongst themselves more frequently than their neighbors in the physical world. They exchange their ideas and feelings on regular basis and without any bias of nationality, religion, cast or creed. This society is far away from the sanctions like Khap Panchayats which try to impose illegal and immoral sanctions. It is also continuously challenging the authoritative nature of the ruling. A recent instance is of Wikileaks. It has successfully disclosed the secrets of American diplomacy along with several other countries. Without the technique of internet and existence of cyber society it would have not been a success story. This ‘alternative society’ is quite flexible and generous enough to their members. One can easily join or leave the existing group of people and choose other set of people to live with if one feels uncomfortable. So membership of this society is at the will of the persons who are part of it. Thus for the entry in this society expects liberal views. Liberal people are adopted in various SNS groups. All these ethics and new etiquettes are mainly responsible to give birth of this alternative society.
Attacks on World Trade Tower on 9/11 and there after subsequent attacks on Afghanistan to control terrorism boosted blogging as a medium of communication. In 2004 Tsunami, one of the biggest natural calamities of the civilized world, added momentum to blogging and established it as a alternative method and platform for personal sharing. Bloggers across the globe showed their concern and helping attitude towards affected population during Tsunami. Thus the purpose of blogging can be identified as-
a) Creative expression of an individual and group of individuals.
b) To document one’s personal experience and sharing.
c) To stay in touch with friends and family
d) Sharing of practical knowledge or skills with others
e) To create challenge for mainstream media.
Thus the emphasis is on personal expression for social cause and friends as well as for family. The mainstream media lacks to provide space for personal expression and thus it repels a large number of individuals who want to share their ideas with others. Blogging attracts them and reinstate them suitably. Mainly there are following types of blog which exist in cyberspace-
1-Topical Blogs which includes News and information based content.
2-Personal Journals and Diaries
4-Business blogs and
Being a personalized medium blogging sometimes becomes a medium of personal rivalry. This kind of act is always condemned by fellow bloggers and get corrected simultaneously.
The cyberspace and its cyber society comes with other kind of agenda which is different from our so called actual society. In our actual world we are fearful of each other while conveying our ideas and views. We become revengeful when any expression goes against us. This affects our communication. Our mind and tongue loose their coherence. We think something and speak something else. So the chances of true and honest speech are diminishing in our mainstream discussion. Cyber society is far away from such kind of psycho fancy. Cyber space also provides us an opportunity to hide our identity until and unless it is not required. This facility makes us bold and fearless in our expression.
Any kind of talk or discussion ultimately affects our actual world whether it has taken place in physical world or related to cyber media. But, the main stream media consists only those expressions which in turn give them monetary benefits. Reader and viewer often feel that the material provided by the main stream media is imposed on them. Choices are limited since time and space are limited in main stream media. Cyber media provides ample space for everyone and faster dissemination for our news and views and thus attracts more netizens to participate. Larger participation in the cyber world makes it more creative, interesting, vivid and varied. Different views and thoughts emerge here freely and thus show the path to constitute a stronger alternative society. By using cyber technology we can groom a different kind of men, women and children. A more honest, just, knowledgeable, informed and sensible society is getting shape by blogging and generating an idea of brotherhood and friendliness across the world without any favor or boundary.