Writer, teacher and academic blogger. Writes a social media trilogy. Forthcoming books: Myth of the Social Media Politics (Primus Books), Intimate Speakers (Fingerprint).Specializes on celebrity culture, political class, culture studies, business politics and technology.
A noted feminist historian from Kerala put a worrying comment on her Facebook Wall on November 06, 2013 that somehow generated staid political debate among her lively Facebook intellectual circle. A summary of the debate somehow goes like this; women with intellectual aspirations usually get sexist attacks on Facebook from people who need some urgent medical help.
Certainly, a birds eye view of the wall comments of the academic navigate us to the learned impression that even after being a recognised intellectual, she dig up very few ‘Likes’ roughly between 10-20 and not many comments on each Facebook post.
In fact, a succinct examination of the Facebook Wall posts of another upcoming male Facebook intellectual from the same state, put in the picture a different story altogether. Roughly, over 100 ‘Likes’ and between 20-40 comments on each post, he is the favourite Facebook ‘intellectual’ among his scholarly and friendship circle.
Now we have drawn up to an impressing question, is Facebook by its nature misogynistic? Considering the two contrasting referent experiences cited, perhaps one may pass on to the misty conclusion that yes, it is!
Yet, they are both misleading. Male or female, class or caste, fifth e-state story is something more complicated! When we make an introspection of fifth e-state stories of some other successful people from different viewpoint, we are often moving on to a feeling that intellectual people in fifth estate are actually ending up in deaf ears.
Nobody reads what intellectuals are writing on Walls, Twitter, etc., and no one is actually interested in following what they are doing. Intellectuals have very little audience.
A reading of fan activism, hobbyists, celebrity pages, and political advertisements give us a sullen picture on the other. Celebrity politicians in the fifth e-state catch vast fan basis in their political billboard campaigns in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Narendra Modi has over nine lakh followers in Google Plus, nearly 60 lakh likes on his Facebook page, and nearly 30 lakh followers in Twitter; a number second only to celebrities. Modi, a probable Prime Ministerial label of BJP, draws up an average of 30000 or more ‘Like’ and copious comments for each Wall post in his Facebook account.
In fact, politicians aspiring potential youth votes are the triumphant colonizers of fifth e-states these days.
We often get an incredibly exciting story from fan activism, hobbyists, and celebrity pages, a different picture marketing and advertisement campaign in fifth e-state unlike those serious monologues of the fifth e-state intellectuals.
Films stars, sporting figures, business tycoons, and celebrities in fifth e-state run up to immense fan basis and follower contest. The fan pages of celebrities have enormous fan basis and followers in social networking sites.
Especially, when there are YouTube contents of film actresses, female sports events, advertisement videos that stars women, songs that has women dancing, how alarming and disturbing is the comment and reply thread that piles up with colossal Facebook Likes, YouTube shares and comments in just few seconds after posting. Sports, films, and celebrities formed a most ticklish segment in connective spaces.
Sporting stars get monstrous Facebook Likes in their fan pages. Tennis, the most favourite searched item in YouTube tells us that Sania Mirza has warped up one of the most searched videos of sporting women.
However, the content is not much of relief to us. YouTube videos titled Sania Mirza BIG Nip Show with over six lakh ‘likes’, Sania Mirza Hot Collection with over eight lakh ‘likes’, now she has become the digital diva of connective spaces.
Celebrities from the films world, in particular, female cine actors have become the final destination point of digital nomads. This draws up to the conclusion that film stars and celebrities have huge colonies in fifth e-state. YouTube videos of film stars get clicks along with female sports stars.
YouTube video titled, Katrina Kaif Unseen Hot has over one crore likes and with a over two hundred comments, most of which must be censored, by now is the paradise of almost all online misogynist, rapists, and harassers. Yet, they get mammoth viewers.
However, one class of people who may make use of fifth e-state for serious political engagement and democratic life is the political class. From famous to nameless, political class used it for political commercials. Facebook is a favorite contrivance for politicians to connect with their electorate and communicate with them.
From big players like L K Advani and Mamata Banerjee to young politicians like Jose K Mani and Hibi Eden from Kerala, Facebook has some wish for building vote banks. A small number of politicians have taken a step further and created Twitter accounts. Talking about twitter, there is no famine of politicians on Twitter. Narendra Modi, Shashi Tharoor, Mamta Banerjee, Sushma Swraj, etc., are few examples.
From illustrious and well-known political big shot like Shashi Tharoor who is illustrious for his tweets to Narendra Modi and to lesser-known politicians like Meera Sanyal and captain Gopinath; Twitter has added up to a ?Twitter sphere? for the participatory engagements in politics.
Hitherto, Indian political tribe who has taken a step further to connect with citizens online is Narendra Modi, Omar Abdullah, Nitish Kumar, Mamata Banarjee, and a few more who connect with internet users through expensive personal websites and blogs.
More importantly, the real beneficiaries of fifth eestates are the conventional corporate monopolies, big archives, media entities, publishing houses who maintain expanding user basis in online spaces.
We have migrated to this techno-sociality through non-serious dialogues and exchanges. Facebook is not a place for serious political exchange; one may get an impression if you make serious argument.
It will never become once! No serious debates are taking up here. People go to Facebook for fan activism, hobbyists, life style choices etc. On the other hand, intellectuals using Facebook for serious political dialogue and activism end up in dearth of viewers.
While the intellectuals and fifth e-state revolutionaries talk with little audience, sporting persons, film stars and celebrities have maintained huge fan basis. The story of intellectual loneliness is appalling when we see the way we handle fun pictures, photos, funny comments, love stories, anti-women jokes, sexists remarks, which carry monumental Likes, shares and comments. The comical pictures get huge likes. Touchy Video gets enormous shares. Humorous comments get huge replies.
Meanwhile, the stories of intellectuals, academics, activists, orators, that are unable to make big gains in fifth e-state are painful. Facebook revolutionaries, twitter intellectuals, blog activists, etc., who at present not skilled to put up coup in fifth e-state is throbbing and constitute the sad demise of alternate media.
The fifth e-state has divided itself. Neither serious political dialogue is taking place nor is solemn intellectual activism growing up. Intellectuals migrated to cyber social house but only succeeded in making their own platoons where they develop their own circles that comment, share and Like on posts.
Commanding their own intellectual army in the limited premises, which is crunching day after day, intellectuals are alone together in the fifth e-state, but none to hear or listen, compared to fifth e-state colonies of celebrities, political class and fan activists.
Facebook is nothing more than little platoons. We all make our own fortified empires in cyber space. Unfortunately, we failed to make a social house for everyone in the fifth e-state.