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Should we trust media in today’s times? Author Manojita Chakraborty wants us to stop believing everything that is put in front of us on a silver platter.
As the academic and business circles are talking and discussing Yuval Noah Harari’s insightful capturing of the evolution of ‘Sapiens’ into ‘Homo Deus’ in the future generation, I am penning down a brief expose on Media. Not the popular, or rather pop culture influenced media, but primarily the platforms for consumption of information.
Why do I quote Harari and his arguments right at the preamble? Mainly because, in both his much-appreciated works, he has emphasized on the ability of human beings to cooperate, share and disseminate information. This is the key to our species’ ability to dominate evolution in its favour, on this planet for the past 70,000 years. The need for information’s barter birthed ‘media.’ As we know it today, popular media is a mouthpiece for information exchange.
Traditionally media outlets spread as centres of learning, exchange, scientific inquisitiveness, religious propaganda and also dissent. One can say that the earliest examples of media hubs were probably, religious monasteries, temple pathshalas, madrasas etc. With the advent of learning techniques, speech, writing, documentation, knowledge began to find fits across geographies.
So as knowledge moved through the timelines, so did the form of traditional media. From religion sponsored research, the torch of this quest passed on to power centres of ruling monarchies. The rulers patronised scientists, scholars, poets, composers etc and their courts became the centres for cultural revolutions. These were phases where religion and nations often collided, and in select cases blended into one form.
As centres of learning and research began to find independence from religion and state, the zeal to share began to increase. This was spearheaded by inventions like papyrus scroll and gradually paper. As words began to be formed on a printed surface, news began to take shape – take two to the beginning of the modern era, newspapers and bulletins rose as relevant power centres.
Revolutions sparked off from tables of dynamic thinkers, reporters and mass leaders. Ideas began to reach every corner of a state and movements first took their birth. Media, as we see today, has the power to topple governments, damage reputations, wage information warfare and influence citizens like never before. Technology has just managed to add fuel to an already uncontrollable fire.
The pertinent question in today’s times is, “Is media, serving it’s true purpose or is it increasingly being used as a tool for propaganda and misinformation?” From the brief history I outlined before, we are more than certain that media primarily serves the purpose of knowledge enhancement, aides and enables the search for information. Perhaps it is, idealistic to think that media should be used for the purpose of bringing together, of educating and ultimately to serve as a platform for equal opportunities. Unfortunately, in the present times, media has inflated itself into a Goliath of inordinate proportions to which human ethics are but an insignificant David.
It is mostly irrelevant and to a large extent widely accepted fact today, that media as an institution is largely corrupt. There are numerous examples to bring to front the excesses of media outreaching the boundaries of moral code, so much so that, we can comfortably compartmentalize media as a cohort, serving the purpose of entertainment more than anything else.
Take for instance, the raging debate on the #metoo movement which has become the talk of the country for the past few weeks. Irrespective of my own opinions on the issue, it is nauseating to see how the topic is being talked upon, enacted on series of popular mediums. Starting from insensitive discussion forums, to memes, to open letters, to wildly hurled accusations – the movement is being reduced to a mockery of mud-slinging. The citizens or rather the netizens need to realize the fact that the issue is a highly sensitive one and should be treated with utmost caution. Safety at workplaces against serial predators is imperative to proper organizational functioning, irrespective of the industry and irrespective of the gender.
This is not a struggle of women coming to parity with the male-dominated world. That is a concept as old as civilizations. What is important here, is the power abuse in the name of chances, opportunities, and advances. Hence the men should be given a hearing as much as the women finding the courage to come out and tell their stories.
Equally obnoxious is the tide of intolerance which seems to be organically evolving in India. The widespread misuse of popular news mediums, may it be print-tv-digital to criminalise the student fraternity from prestigious institutions is highly appalling. The way in which freedom of speech is being curtailed and the influence that troops of marginally educated (if at all), short totting so-called ‘bhakts’ wield is comical, to say the least. I can dramatically tell you that the borders between good and evil media trends are blurring. That doesn’t make this any less tragic and comic at the same moment. Shakespeare would have turned in his grave.
So, what exactly needs to be done? I personally feel, the foremost measure that we as a society should adopt is to stop believing everything that is put in front of us on a silver platter. Someone very long time back, sagely said, all that glitters is not gold. And so, don’t be a vessel to all that you are told. Unfortunate the truth in our world is that the facts are out there for public consumption, barring state records, are largely doctored. It is great to have an opinion, but not a rushed one. By all means, listen to media. But treat it as a source of information that needs validation from your own research, and not something which is set in stone. And lastly, laugh it off, media in today’s time is meant to be taken with not a pinch but a generous dose of salt.
Earlier Published here.
Image Source – Pexels
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Manojita loves to write alongside her regular 9-5. Flair for language, poetry, art etc
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