Yes, we are calling it that. The recent #BeefBan in Maharashtra sparked a huge outcry on social media but it also sparked in us the need to re-visit the democratic dimension of this platform when it comes to public opinion, pop culture and all things that make us go ‘holy cow!’
In the bygone days, we looked up to well-renowned commenters, theorists, activists and thinkers for opinion and critical dissection of a subject matter. Today, rely on Twitter for the most thought-provoking tweets from everyday people, that can get you stimulated to be part of a larger democratic conversation.
Take the case of #indiasdaughter Nirbhaya, from the time of the incident, to the victim’s death and imprisonment of the guilty, India as a nation has remarkably stirred social media with commentary, support and fervour to bring about change. As today the BBC documentary of the Delhi Gang Rape Case receives a ban on television, social media is bringing the film to people across India, and alongside generating criticism for the government for banning it.
Ability (to convey opinion) combined with opportunity (a platform to launch opinion), results in action (opine), and social media is the best example of this.
Splashed across all news feeds and timelines, the sacred Hindu cow is revelling for all the attention gained by #BeefBan in Maharashtra. Both positive and negative comments have flooded Twitter and Facebook but have also inspired comparisons between laws for cow- slaughter versus laws for women safety.
Besides politics, a lot of other subject matter is now trending everyday because of how it arouses people or gives them a listening ear. Social media in such a scenario is an agony aunt or your therapist or may be a replacement for a real world that has no time for you. It takes in all of it, processes it and gives you a response too.
Be it the numerous jokes on Alia Bhatt that went around as statuses or the back and forth of tweets between politicians and film actors during the AIB Roast hungama – topics in pop culture have also involved the internet masses to express what they feel about the same on their social media profiles. Even if that’s mocking Rakhi Sawant’s uninformed take on the Roast that almost broke the Internet. It was the high volume activity on social media about the Roast that got the government taking action to eventually pull down the video. In no time, the medium will also boast of being a game changer when it comes to legislation and judiciary.
Social Media is more powerful that we think. Like in the case of Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone’s cleavage news piece by The Times of India (TOI). Celebrities and the non-celebrities poured their heart out in support of #IamwithDeepikaPadukone and a feminist wave swept across social media. After seeing a few cancelled newspaper subscriptions, TOI might have thought to up its game on Twitter.
Be it celebrating India’s Mangalyan as landmark event in our history, exchanging reading lists or participating in the wasteful cycle of Ice Bucket challenges, everyday social media gives people more to do and more to talk about. We must praise how terribly democratic (and propaganda driven simultaneously) the medium is today, becoming truly, of the people, by the people and for the people.