Thursday, January 5, 2012

A peep into the history of social media

A nice article giving sound instance of how the new word 'social media' is not actually a thing of today.  The author explains the effort of Luther in Germany way back in 16th century and how he managed to shape public opinions during his times.

It was a refreshing read on the subject

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pseudo heroism?

The above image has been taken from one of the protest in a European country in the year 2011. A close examination of this visual struck me from the point of view of the number of people who were trying to capture images at the moment. Several people can be seen weilding cameras, phones, ipads or some other gadget. One thought that came to me was possibly that there are people from the media. But the sheer number of such individuals as seen in the visual makes me wonder whether they are all from the media.

There are two aspects to it-

  • In the age of social media, we want to feel good about ourselves and what we have been upto. Sharing of images from such protests when one is part of it is one aspect of this self love. 
  • There is a sense of romanticisation about fight against state which has been glorified not just by media but also by entertainment industry. Films like Hazaron Khwaishein Aisi, Hazar Chaurasi ki Ma, Rang de basanti are all testimony to it. There are some movies from India. There are several from the west too where the oppresive state against unarmed citizens makes for an engaging story. Remember the iconic image of the revolutionary Che that we have seen on many a t-shirts?

A genuine revolutionary whose image became iconic amongst youth

An image from Rang de Basanti signifying the attitude of 'letting go'

In a state of extreme emotion, do we really feel like pulling out our camera to capture being present there?

There is a sense of high that one feels by claiming that one got hit by police or else when one was caught by the police. But isn't it totally different from the kind of struggle that freedom fighters did or else people like Suu Kyi and all have gone through. Shouldn 't people try to be more genuine when they seek to be in the middle of such movements.

Movements require passionate people and the passion should be towards the cause and nothing else. But if one enters into these protests for the sheer appeal of being captured in the press or sharing it on facebook, it loses its essential value. And the same momentum can't last beyond few hours. All leaders who start such movements should be vary of such 'supporters' as it is very difficult to guage from the crowd as to who is supporting what at that point in time.

This is one reason why Gandhian followers (in the true sense) and on extreme level terrorists never care to come in front of the media. Media searches for them when possible. They are committed to the cause because they believe in a given ideology, they understand its roots, history and possibilities. They are not there for bubble fames. And such people will aways be few.

It is important to distil true heroism from pseudo heroism. The former gives you numbers but the latter is about sustained strength.

The age of Eklavyas

 Any person who has taken interest in Mahabharata even remotely would be aware of the story of Eklavya. The famous archer who considered Drona to be his guru and developed his expertise after taking inspiration from him. Drona didn't agree to teach him archery because he was associated with Arjuna- a kshatriya, while Eklavya was apparently from a lower sociological strata. This didn't deter Eklavya to give up his passion.

Fast forward and come to the 21st century. There may be few Dronas now who may be unwilling to tutor anyone for sociological reasons. But on the flip side there are millions who can't really afford to pay to learn from professors of the best universities of the world.  Had internet existed in the age of Mahabharata, Eklavya would have been able to see Drona on youtube, listened to his thoughts on podcast, read about his theories of warfare online and may be even attended his webinar without Drona ever getting to know about all this. We are all Eklavya's in some form trying to learn from Dronas scattered all over the world. The distance between Arjuna and Eklavya has shrunk considerably.

Today we as Eklavyas can get to learn from whosoever we want to, provided we have the intent and inclination to do that. Big assumption being we can afford to access internet. 

And the icing on the cake is that, the Drona will not get to ask his thumb as gurudakshina any more.

It has taken several ages to reach this stage. Some distances are just so long to cover !