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Social or unsocial?

  • Published at 05:39 pm October 6th, 2018
How can you tell fact from fiction? BIGSTOCK

Can social media complement mainstream media?

The media was created by the urge of the liberal mind to express what he feels about the state, society, and environment. 

What we today call “the mainstream media” once only consisted of the print media, followed later by more electronic modes. The print media was popular and used only by the chosen class of people to express their mind. The number of print media outlets and space available in them were limited. It was the domain of the elite and educated class.

Articulation of expression in print media was delicate, and used to undergo a lot of editorial surgery. Careless or even intentional efforts to offend any quarters of society or even an individual used to be counter-productive to the writer. Ever since media became a powerful tool to influence the society, it has given much more space to liberal writers.

The term “liberty” is enigmatic, as it lacks a universal definition. Discussions over liberty often make a narrower and partisan sense, but the pursuit of liberty is much broader than its applied sense. Writers in print media barely have to care for the sentiment of the readers as their perception of liberty knows no inhibition.

The question of control over these writers arose from this perspective either by the state authority or by the media house itself. The objective of the institutional media to put control on the expression of the writer was basically to control quality of writing, and keep it under a sense of proportion.

But under either illiberal governance or influence of some giant media house, stricter control has been put on print. The enforcement of censorship not only deprived readers of knowing the facts, but eventually discouraged a large quarter to grow a distaste for it. 

Therefore, the nobler role of mainstream media on the basis of which they were created, vanished.

There has always been a battle between the ruled and ruling. The limiting of liberty for both readers and writers was largely due to the clash between these two classes. Through the advancement of information technology, there surfaced an immense space for liberals who left mainstream media out of frustration.

The porous space has been sharply captured by social media, providing a vast and free space to all.

The liberty afforded by social media is bound by no limit of space, proportion, or fear of repression -- nor care or responsibilities in hurting anyone’s feelings. Social media is ahead in the race to establish fakes, as the readers find no other ways but to accept half-truths.

Why is social media castigated so much? Does it abuse liberty, or make compromises in the pretext of censorship like that of, or more than, the mainstream media? 

Human beings are inherently confrontational. Evolution of various social institutions helped guard against self-interest and secure social interests instead. Ironically as the world increasingly stepped into modernity, more space for narrow interest was created. 

This made the mainstream media give way to precious space being captured by social media.

If the liberty is to be rightly defined, it has to be one where there is mutual respect for both readers and writers. Social media can be social enough that it complements mainstream media instead of supplanting it.

AF Jaglul Ahmed is a contributor to the Dhaka Tribune.

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