The Incursion of Social Media - Insaf Blog by Ahmed Janjua | Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf
Social Media makes globalization a reality despite being controversial medium in today’s world. We live in a world where information is optimized, we click that button & information sways around us from stock market to current affairs, from fashion to general public interests. Millennialism is actually eschatology proportional to the earthly prospects human community rather than worldly prospects of an individual these days, we want to know, read & understand and then speak our minds out, which is where media comes into play and social media being an easy access available on the go, becomes more facile to use than the other sources to info. With being a source to information, Social media can also be used as a subliminal tool to propagate and influence masses, esp. by regimes to address their domestic voters asserting their narrative that could change overall behavior of individuals, without having to know the reality, unfortunately in today’s politics where media surfaces news with a brink of an eye, perception goes bigger than reality. There has been a research on how perception without awareness has provoked strong emotional responses from individuals, we otherwise call propaganda. Although there has been a great deal of research investigating the effects of stimuli perceived awareness on perception, cognition, attitude and behavior, the topic remains controversial. Rarely a day goes by without reference to propaganda; we either get used to it or go resilient by trying to live aside from it unless we develop a capacity to detect propaganda infested by social media. Last year in a study of organized social media manipulation across 28 countries, two oxford academics agreed to the fact that social media campaigns are used by authorities, in most cases on public office’s demand targeting domestic voters. Electronic media has a lot to do with this haywire because in the race of ratings, television news channels started to flutter “breaking news” to spice up situation to already, otherwise overly politicized nation like ours. This trend supplemented only after private sector channels were made available to us and to keep up with the market, TV channels relied more on taking lead to breaking news instead of relying on authenticity. This only set a precedent to break a story or news in order to take lead from others without having to worry about “bar none”. Things that happen frequently around us, become a part of our norms which is why Adolf Hitler believed in disarming citizens before conquering its nation. Spreading disinformation is actually disarming its recipients esp. where there is no mechanism to verify the flow of information. In the era of global village, it is actually a psychological warfare. Russians came up with an idea of “Moscow school of civic education” which was founded in 1990s to promote critical thinking and democratic values among the younger, post-soviet generation. Swiss have civil reform society that encourages general public to join forum for promoting and suggesting reforms to the parliamentarians, insinuating the fact when general public goes political, propaganda loses its charm as source to information becomes available. There are probably anti-nodes to propaganda that go beyond the mandatory responsibility of checking the authenticity of news or narrative. Individuals in a country like Pakistan with literacy rate on a plunge, with disinformation-filled environment, deal daily with the influx of social media-constraint effects which is actually changing the behavior of nation. Most of us don’t focus on how disinformation casts its spell across our society, the bots, the trolls, and the technological mechanism of “fake news”. We spend no time thinking how this tool is actually captivating us, playing on our emotions (in most cases, political emotions) and controlling on how we have started to think, henceforth becoming a catalyst in our emotional intelligence responses. The use of propaganda tools is nothing new but never before has there been technological tool to promulgate it so effectively and this will continue to surface unless we as a nation did something about it. In this point in time of information overloaded with facts, falsehood and propaganda being thrown at us left, right and center through several media outlets, devices & gadgets when an average individual is bombarded on a go, we need a mechanism to keep a check on authenticity of news flow spewed at through any medium. The barrage of information is overwhelming and sometimes too spontaneous for an average individual to cope with. The concern is that a good percentage of some populace are very gullible & easily swayed by whatever information they are fed. Political parties have a lot to do with this trend. Instead of giving awareness to their domestic voters, and building narrative, they remained focused on giving anti-narrative or their political stance. This battle of point scoring to lure more public in their favor ignored the basic principle of authentic information flow. There is no precise cure to these situations yet simple guidelines one could apply to maintain sanity and stay above the fray. Be the keeper of your own gate of information. Access to reality is as easy as spreading disinformation but somehow negative agenda prevails faster than the sanity does. One has to be cautious not docile, to be discriminatory and not gullible about information. One has to acknowledge that this is an age of media influence and domination so that one can readily brace oneself and learn how to sift through the junk and how to separate the wheat from the chaff. Truly, so much junk and propaganda are circulated by way of things written and shared. Every Human being has ability of choice & faculty of imagination. This is what makes man a foremost divine being