Two recent incidents which started trending on Twitter: Suarez bit Italian footballer Chiellini and Tennis player Maria Sharapova showed ignorance on knowing Sachin Tendulkar, arguably the best cricket batsman world has ever seen.
With these two incidents, simultaneously two other incidents were taking place: Isreal teens killed in Gaza and Israel air strikes Gaza; and Iraq crisis where almost a thousand Indian national are stranded under ISIS attack.
Natural enough, as always happens, people took to Twitter and Facebook discussing what pleased their senses the most: Suarez bite and Sharapova’s ignorance which made the two people trend on social media.
Another lobby, which perhaps took part in the ridicule of both these players early on, switched gears to ridicule those who were still at it. They emphatically, putting on their humanitarian underwear that bites incessantly when you want it, started chiding those who were ‘discussing’ sportspersons as teens were dying and country was being held hostage.
This caring lot with humanitarian underwear does the caring for various reasons. The reasons range from peer pressure: Oh, he shared, I should too; to show you do care (although, you really don’t); to show that you heard the news bla… bla… bla…
But what does that achieve, either way? Whether you ‘discuss’ Suarez or you talk about Iraq crisis, it doesn’t change even an iota of things on ground. Social media is still a timepass thing. It doesn’t build opinion with enough intensity to change anything.
It is a media with everything in ‘clouds’. Nothing on ground. I am yet to hear Facebook or Twitter appealing to world leaders on humanitarian crises around the world nor I have heard these social media platforms taking out a newspaper/TV show to actually influence opinion with any tangible result whatsoever.
Trends are a way to make you tweet more and earn them money, the screwed capitalist way. In the name of democratisation of information, it is a pseudo-humanitarian way to earn money.
Although, we can not, and should not, discard its potential as in early days newspapers and television had. They motivated people to join hands and execute things.
Right now, social media is in nascent stages and lacks seriousness apart from a few pockets. Unless Internet truly becomes an International Network connecting everybody to everybody, it will remain an elitist kind of tool to tell ‘how do you feel today’, ‘what’s on your mind’ and uploading images of the food that you ate at the restaurant.