Circa 2009. People started giving up Orkut accounts to switch to facebook. This fancy looking suave place was so full of promise. More privacy, more control, more style, more chutzpah. Oh those were the times, when we were all busy discovering friends on facebook. “Hey, are you on facebook? Yeah! Add me!” Time passed, and the numbers slowly started swelling, literally everybody started trickling, the brands had started shouting, the people had resorted to ranting and the spammers had found newer ways to do seeding. The Singapore skyline had started looking more like the busy streets of Bangalore. While this clutter affects and hurts everybody equally, what hurts the most is what we the people turned social media into.
This new media was supposed to be an alternate to media. Sadly, over time, it has actually turned out to be just the same at many levels. Pages and communities originally built to cater to certain niche segments all seem to be posting the same content. Click bait in all its glory is used everywhere. Anything sensational is spread all across, while the real deal gets missed in the mayhem. There are lots of good pages and channels all around, but most seem to have taken the simpler route to drive more traffic. There are examples of news publications posting provocative content just to get more likes, while there are many niche websites who have had to resort to promote the same content being posted everywhere just because that’s what grabs the eyeballs. Murder mysteries get more coverage here as well, while important events get lost in the process. Journalists are often blamed to not go to the depth of the matter, and people on social media don’t tend to read beyond the headlines before forming their opinions.
What was new, has actually left behind the old in creating an absolutely new kind of sensational media, one that thrives on virality, sensation and negativity.
From NDTV, its become closer to India TV. From The Hindu, its closer to Delhi Times. Not that any of this will change, or that it needs to, but just feels a little sad to see a medium for the people by the people become a victim of the same fate as other media. Social media, over the years has not just caught up with traditional media, but has actually surged ahead in spreading a lot of nonsense. May wisdom prevail.