Social media for major transformation - The New Indian Express

Social media for major transformation

Published: 10th June 2013 08:30 AM

Last Updated: 10th June 2013 08:30 AM

Media has always been a significant pillar of society. Media doesn’t just report happenings, it also builds public opinion. This puts the media in a powerful position in a democracy and wherever there is power there is a chance of misuse of that power.

In some countries, powerful media houses are said to have influenced election results by portraying people and events a certain way. In India too, some time ago, a nexus between prominent people in the media and some politicians came to light.

The media space has changed a lot with the emergence of social media. With social media, the public has eyes and ears everywhere. They are not limited to camera crews of a few TV channels.

Social media is a platform that showcases public opinion such that it cannot be easily doctored. It reflects the pulse of society. Even traditional media channels  keep an eye on ongoing social media trends.

In the recent past, we have seen so many top news stories originate from social media. Apart from highlighting issues that are socially relevant and crucial, social media has also exposed the disconnect between the government and the population. People are more aware of what our leaders are up to and exchange notes on how laws and policies affecting them are being made. Gone are the days when the government could pass laws behind closed doors without the public realising it for months. Thanks to the social media, discussion on political issues and implications is widespread and immediate.

Some politicians thrive on keeping communities apart and playing one’s interests over the other to secure their votebanks. As boundaries between people blur over social media, and they become more aware and better informed, this will no longer be easy to do. One needs to be more aware and alert while making speeches or statements. People see through any gimmick done with an ulterior motive and any sign of a narrow mindset comes in for severe criticism.

Like all powerful tools, social media should also be used with utmost care and responsibility failing which it can cause damage to the society. In 2011 London riots, arsonists used social media widely to plan and execute their attacks. More recently, in India, social media was used to spread panic among people from North-eastern states living in Bangalore and Hyderabad leading to a massive exodus to their native places.

However, with its potential to bring people together, social media also holds immense promise as a tool for social change. We have recently seen many successfully executed protests organised over social media that have made the right impact. Another application of social media could be to effectively utilize the vast diversity of human resource that India has which is still lying untapped. For instance, in Volunteer for a Better India, somebody announces a medical camp in a locality on a date and others join. Likewise, somebody announces a tree plantation or a cleaning drive and people support the initiative with their time or resources.

We are clearly passing through a phase of transformation. India is a nation of youth who have a big role to play in that transformation.

Social media is a medium that connects them and gives them voice. This voice is growing louder. It is a welcome sign.

Excerpts from the book An Intimate Note to the Sincere Seeker by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar www.artofliving.org

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