Newspapers and T.V Channels, nowadays read and sound like a really badly written dystopian novel by Chetan Bhagat. Social Media has become a place so dark and gory that Dante’s version of Hell in Inferno could have been entirely based on it, with the same line marked on its gate as in the Original- “ABANDON ALL HOPE, YOU WHO ENTER HERE”. The only difference in the modern day inferno would be that the Ninth Circle of Hell would be a little more grotesque and explicit with Sambit Patra, Ashutosh and Arnab Goswami vigorously trying to eliminate each other by the sheer shrillness of their voices.
It is absolutely sad and concerning that these primary sources of information for the majority of people are completely prejudiced, distorted and sensationalised. The media has very well realised that in the age of social media, it does not take much to make an issue out of a non-issue and to keep ruminating on it for day’s altogether while making it a topic for discussion on Prime Time Debates.
If you want to see how narrow the range of topics which are debated on TV day in and day out are, just look at the panelists who come out and participate. To me it always resembles a Big Boss house where these inmates are taking their weekly turns to discharge their duties as punching bags for the anchor to vent his daily sexual frustration.
The relationship between Social Media and the conventional news media is that of a cocaine addict and a drug dealer. The Conventional Media supplies the social media with extremely poor quality cocaine which after snorting somehow makes you believe that the Sheena Bora murder case is essential to world peace, lowering the tax burden on people and arresting farmer suicides. The problem however multiplies when the cocaine dealer himself behaves like an addict.
I was absolutely surprised to see some people expressing outrage and anguish over the way Arnab Goswami, Zee News and India TV; the cornerstones of objective and sensible journalism handled the entire issue by running the doctored tape of the Kanhaiya’s speech and brandishing the JNU students as anti-national in their fast track studio courts.
People should have been outraged if they would have come out of their character to make some sense. People who run the media understand that it is very easy to emotionally manipulate and polarize people. The cacophony and the shrillness that is created around a subject, forces people to take position on subjects that they normally would not give two hoots about. It is the fear of missing out that plays on the minds of all twitteratis and facebook users and forces them to put out their half baked, media influenced and sometimes absolutely nonsensical opinions on the subject adding to the cacophony and confusion. The JNU saga is a perfect example of it.
The JNU saga presented itself as a perfect opportunity and platform to sensibly debate and discuss ideas and issues which would usually be discussed only in the confines of a University. This is something that should have been facilitated by the media; and the State should have been an active participant of it. However the media took the easy way out and made it a mud-slinging accusatory slug-fest which would cater to the frustrated middle class to vent his emotions on something else rather than abusing and beating his wife.
Every debate on Prime Time slots is constructed in a way, where there is a villain and a vigilante. Which side you are on depends on your ideological leanings. The media doesn’t want to debate ideas it wants to play a hero.
I actually don’t know what to make of the JNU saga and my inclinations lean nowhere. But I am of the firm opinion that the there is never going to be a winner in this fight between the Right and the Left. Both sides are convinced about their positions on different ideological issues and both have enough material to convince themselves about the righteousness of their own positions.
At a risk of over simplifying it, the Indian Right whose position stems more from emotion and reliance on culture, tradition and ethos ingrained therein, will possibly never be able to syncretise its beliefs with the left who is more dependent on a deconstructionist thought which breaks down every idea and institution to its lowest possible unit even if it means taking on the ideas of nationalism, religion, social order and the idea of Nation itself. Basically, everything the right would feel touchy about. On a side note, the right can do itself a huge favour if it can shut Anupam Kher up who with his latest tweet about cockroaches and pests has made himself a great contender to be a Propaganda Minister for the BJP government.
I also find it incredibly funny and irritating at the same time when I see the futility of people on social media taking on each other for their positions on different issues. Its like two people with mutilated arms trying to play stone paper scissors. There is going to be no result.
I think the solution to reduce this noise lies in exercising restraint and empathy and surrendering to the fact that co-existing is the only option. However, this is quite a long shot considering Arnab Goswami wont abandon his quest for world domination anytime soon and the sanghis and the commies will continue to abuse each others mums and sisters. Unfortunately so the media itself has become a hurdle and is cockblocking the process of a meaningful ideological discourse.
A big shout out must go to Ravish, who tried to be a voice of reason against the howling mob. I personally wish that just to top Ravish’s action, that Arnab not only darkens the screen but also puts the codes for the Nuclear Missiles which I am sure he has access to from his studios in Mumbai. What else can give a News Anchor such chutzpah!
The sooner media starts facilitating dialogue instead of drama and inflaming passions, the sooner we will be on track to a saner society. We can only hope against all odds and logic that the media will let the cacophony, the disturbing noise subside, giving way to some meaning full dialogue instead of resembling a kangaroo court proceeding where the judge is an anchor on drugs.