CHENNAI: What can a young student pursuing under-graduation have in common with a seasoned journalist? In the cases of popular student bloggers, it is a large following of thousands of readers, waiting each week to follow their latest post. The trend of starting blogs and Facebook Pages is growing in the city, and students are discovering these to be powerful mediums to reach out to a wider audience.
For 19-year-old Kishen Das, a final year student of visual communication, starting a Facebook page for movie reviews got him 4,000 followers, most of whom he has never met, but they read his reviews without fail. “I’ve been a movie buff all my life and I began reviewing movies on my personal Facebook page as a hobby. A lot of my friends told me they loved my write-ups because they could relate my work and that’s what made me take a bigger step and start an official page,” he says.
Today, he gets messages from people he has never even met “who compliment my work. The feeling is amazing,” says the founder of the Facebook page Rs 120.
The youngsters certainly don’t believe in sticking to one format alone, and Kishen’s page has videos, dubsmashes and movie trailers to keep the content dynamic and engaging. Keeping it light and breezy is what many students look at, whether it’s sharing humorous anecdotes or rants about college. An UG student blogger Dwani Guru said, “Student blogs are pretty common nowadays, many of them contain great work. I’ve been blogging for 8 years and my blogs don’t cover anything specific. I love literature and try my bit on writing an entertaining piece on life experiences.”
Students are also turning to alternative media like Instragram and Snapchat or making YouTube channels to share their views. “I don’t think students are as much into blogging alone as their seniors were. They rather use social media to express themselves. For me, YouTube is the best way to share my experiences, talking to a camera is therapeutic especially in an unfamiliar place and helps both me and the viewers,” says Akash Sriram, a student, who took to ‘vlogging’ on YouTube to chronicle his stint in Chennai with descriptions of places and events.
Some students use this powerful medium as a catalyst for social change. A Facebook page Unrape India founded by a student was started after the tragic Nirbhaya incident and it aims to reduce sexual abuse in the country by extending a platform that could educate the youth on the trauma a victim goes through.
“Through our page we want people to air their opinion on topics related to sexual assault. We believe it is never the victim’s fault. A girl can wear whatever she wants and be able to go anywhere; none of these things give anyone the permission to rape. Such topics must be discussed for the youth to develop the right mindset,” says Gautam Misra, founder of FB page Unrape India that has over 7,000 regular followers and accepts personal stories of sexual abuse.
“It hurts to see these incidents happen in our country, and we want to make a difference,” adds Misra.