Revolutions, movements and demonstrations were there even before the advent of social media. It will continue to happen even now but while discussing the social media we tend to get distracted over the issue of the greatness of social media whereas we should concentrate upon the restlessness behind the expressions.
Somehow, we precluded that in this age of social media, politics has become passé. The thinning attendance at political rallies further precipitated this belief. Politicians started believing that the urban voter is politically inactive.
In such a backdrop, there comes a period when suddenly the metropolises throw up major political movements. From Tunisia to Arabic nations to the Anna movement. And the Occupy Wall Street Movement in New York. These movements are those that overturn dictatorships. Social media becomes the channel, the medium by which these are propagated. It is this social media that you know by the name of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube etc.
Delhi has a population of about 2 crores but hardly a hundred meters’ space has been earmarked for demonstrations and protests. This place is known as Jantar Mantar and for the use of this stretch one has to go through a plethora of governments permissions. Now, people did not notice the Anna Movement because of the huge crowd gathering at the Jantar Mantar. The widespread popularity of Anna’s movement was due to what is being known as the social media.
This means, here, on the social media, it is a protest getting manifested in the written form. Is it not a fact that it were the national political parties who started the process of politicisation of social media. Remember the India Shining campaign? Is seeking votes through SMS not gate-crashing into the social media? If the political parties can approach people through social media then why can’t the people put pressure on them through the same medium? They perhaps forgot that social media is a two way traffic.
A handful of leaders are demanding a ban on it and want to regulate it. They are the same politicians who carry laptops and iPhones. Now, whether or not the social media is playing a role in evolving our political consciousness is an issue of analysis. It is yet to be seen whether it creates only bubbles or brings a change.
The place of pamphlets and cartoons in the revolutions of yesteryears has been taken by Facebook and Twitter. When Gandhi started his movements, he evolved many such means which can be categorised as social media. He adopted the means of prabht pheris, spinning of wheel, giving importance to women in the exhibitions, burning of foreign clothes and adopting Khadi. No movement can last long without its wide social acceptance. Gandhi criss – crossed the nation and created the greatest social medium of the time – the Congress.
Today, in the times when the politicians are trying to adjust themselves to the political strength and clout of the television, and are trying to buy it through the paid news – the sudden appearence of the social media has not only surprised them, it has also frustrated their efforts.
Social media is the newest avatar of the media. Its significance is that of a medium. Political changes do not come from a medium alone. They are brought through a new alternate political thought. The role of the social media should be seen through this angle. The time to see it as a form of a revolution has yet not arrived.