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Social Media – The Shifting Paradigm

Social Media – The Shifting Paradigm

By Ayesha Borker

Edited by Namitha Sadanand, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

We live in a world populated by social media slaves – where Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or Tumblr would, any day, score over a BBC, Star News or Al Jazeera. We are slowly moving to a zone where we rely wholly on networking sites for the news, latest trends or any kind of awareness. While old school critics would complain of social media being commercialized or glamourized leading to the distortion of reality, there have been several instances when campaigns or events have more or less served a better cause.

When was the last time you tuned into a news channel to know of the latest events in the world? Log onto Facebook and you know that Miley Cyrus twerked away at a stage show. You can see the video, you can see what others think, you can Google the reality and switch off. Similarly, the unfortunate events involving Malaysian Airlines- you can find all the articles related to them buzzing in your newsfeed; you don’t need irksome ‘Breaking news’ flashes or journalists shouting down at you. ‘Robin Williams passes away’- Where did you first read it? In all likelihood, someone’s status update. Follow celebrities on Twitter and you already know their opinion about things. While we are gradually entering an era where social platforms are taking over the way the world functions, it has become a matter of how you use this platform to pave way for your intentions.

Two of the best campaigns in social media that have recently taken the world by storm are The Humans of New York project and the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS.

The Humans of New York (HONY) is a photo blog started by Brandon Stanton in 2010 in New York, when he lost his job and decided to pursue photography. He had actually planned to put up ten thousand pictures of New Yorkers on a map. But later his project took an interesting turn when he started adding captions to the pictures and presenting small stories. His Tumblr blog took the world by storm and his Facebook page has reached millions of likes. So much that the United Nations has taken notice of his efforts and funded his 50 Day World tour to expand his project to several countries. While many appreciate Brandon’s efforts to bring out the lives of ordinary people on an extraordinary platform, there are several critiques too. One could argue that Brandon provides a very restricted and limited view to the lives of people across the world. His page could reveal only his choice and perception of reality. Nevertheless, it has gained mass popularity and is providing a dais to represent people across the world.

Speaking of the second campaign- ALS stands for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, causing the inability of the brain to control the body that leads to the eventual death of the patient. I think what promptly follows this term is the Ice bucket Challenge. No one really knows what ALS is, but the Challenge is the new rage online- taking narcissism to another level. Though you cannot really blame the human nature of jumping onto a bandwagon, many criticize this campaign as they believe it has become more of a ‘cool act to do’ than raising any kind of awareness. Others may argue that it is sheer wastage of water. While all these charges are valid, one cannot deny the efficacy of using the social platform to spread awareness. How many knew ALS existed? The death toll of ALS being on the lower side, facts say that 2 out every 100,000 deaths are caused due to ALS. With these statistics it would have been difficult to raise funds and the Ice Bucket Challenge must have only proven to be beneficial to those dedicated to the cause.

These two examples are just a testimony to the slowly changing trends of the modern world. People care more about what’s on the networks and are easily influenced by social broadcasting. Take for example the trending Alia Bhatt video in which she has willingly taken a dig at herself. A smart move indeed, to tackle the ‘bimbo image’. The viral video has ensured that Alia is treated more like a sport and people forget her silly blooper on national television.

What becomes important today is that social media has to be used for the right reasons. Its power and impact cannot be undermined by any means. With the gradual shift in broadcasting loyalties, the internet could truly be a new place for the world to live in.

Ayesha has completed her engineering and is currently working.She has a very logical bent of mind and keeps an interest in a variety of topics. She has a passion for writing poems and maintains a blog too. She loves creating things, coming up with ideas to build things from scratch! She loves humour and is up to hear any joke! Life is too short to be taken seriously!

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