In 1996, during one of the General Knowledge sessions conducted by my 6th grade teacher, we were told that a new technology, known as the “Internet” was emerging. Through the internet, she told us, the whole world be connected 24/7 and instead of sending letters and waiting for days before they reached their intended destination, we might soon be able to communicate through electronic mail, which would send and receive messages within a few seconds.
If you’re not a 90’s kid, you won’t be able to fathom the awe of some thirty 11 year olds back when Dish TV was the grandest innovation in technology that they knew of!
Today however, everything from entertainment to news to
personal and professional communication is – as they say – merely a click away.
The advent of social media in the last decade or so has further gone on to revolutionize communication. Where in the early 2000’s we relied on e-mail and SMS for instant communication, today Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp ensure global communication on the go.
Apart from being a source of entertainment, by far one of the most important functions of social media has now become providing the common citizens with an avenue to voice their opinions, exchange ideas and build alliances of sorts with like-minded people across the world. Social media, thus, in part owes its rise to the lacunas in traditional media.
Let’s take a look at three of the important issues with traditional media the world over and how social media is increasingly stepping up to fill the gap.
TV-anchors and reporters wanting to be popular and media houses aiming to increase their channel’s ratings often give greater space to news and events that they believe are “popular” rather than bringing forth issues that are actually a source of concern for the citizens.
Social media then provides common people with an outlet to gather attention around issues that mainstream media fails to capture.
Not every news network might have its crew and camera in far flung remote areas, however every neighborhood is likely to have at least one camera phone with an internet connection. In most cases that is all that is needed to capture and share on Twitter for the whole world to see!
Instant Exchange of Information and Ideas
Unlike traditional media, where a published or broadcasted piece offers only one-way communication, the internet and by extension social media comes with the default function of instant feedback. Incorrect information or misrepresented facts once posted on a social media site will always be accompanied by instant rebuttals from a global audience who have the other side of the story. Thus, someone consuming news and information via social media is more likely to have a more comprehensive take on any issue from the Ferguson riots in a small town in the United States to the coup attempt in Turkey to a developing story in Pakistan.
Since its advent in the late 1980’s the internet has surpassed the original expectations the world – and I and my 29 classmates had from it. The spill-over of the World Wide Web into politics, social welfare and media has truly brought the world to a point where the term “global village” no longer remains a figure of speech but an actual, tangible reality.