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.
Cities migrated to social media, so is the middle class. Now, the new ‘town square’ of the cyber age, i.e. social media has metamorphosed in to the ghettos of urban middle class! Social media hybrid labels are everyday cultural vocabularies of urban life. Cool buddies to ‘fb’, Youthtube to Youth+, and Tweens to Festbook, loads of terrifying cultural vocabularies of the ‘3G’ generation, signals the dawn of the ‘ghettos’ of our generation.
While villages are still the Zion of Maoists, Naxalite and extreme ideologies calling for a paradise lost, cities have become factories of hate. Social media is their ghettos. These ghettos resurfaced in to the factories of communal tensions, casteist violence, and gender stereotypes and many more.
Sure enough to believe that it had played to engineer communal tension in Muzaffarnagar, confirmed summary of the chief Ministers’ speeches at the National Integration Council meeting held on 23 September 2013.
When morphed pictures used by shenanigans in forms of multi-media messages (MMS) and social networking sites to buff communal tension targeting people from the northeast India in Hyderabad, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai, we have heard that similar concerns have been discussed in Parliament in August 2012.
The factories of the contemporary cyber “hate”, Cairo, Tunisia, Yemen, Iran, etc., instead of bringing about ideas for changing the world, produced a new sociality in the form of connective spaces and co-opted it in the routines of cities.
This luxurious utopian movement of digital age, among many, has co-opted three names, Larry Page (Google), Jack Dorsey (Twitter) and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) who in their fetish for openness, connection and transparency proposes a new seductive utopia.
However, they are city centric, created a ‘flat public’, where from politics to protest, and hate to love looks as if similar.
Cities migrated to social media and made it the next stage in the burn up of city. The dialectic between city and social media resurfaces in new form of class antagonism and in the grammar of new hostilities between cities and villages, rich and poor and urban and rural.
These new proletariat of the cyber age are born in the Indian cities and migrated to the new town square, i.e. social media. To put in cultural Marxist lexicons, citizen media, those heroic ‘bloggers’ and podcasters, ‘Facebookers’, ‘twitterites’, manufactured in the so-called cities were the proletariat of the connective spaces.
Film studios, the big media, the major archives and international publishing houses, were bourgeoisie and in fact did represent the enemy. The foretold emancipation was user-generated platforms. In neo-Marxist terms, the traditional media had become exploitative and the new media has become the liberation.
Now, the new ghettos of city India born in the connective spaces have found in Facebook, twitter and YouTube. These assumed ghettos, mirrors the new loudspeaker for the new proletariat of India.
Mumbai, where we heard two young girls, Shaheen Dhada along with Rinu Shrinivasan put Facebook comment, created much outcry over Internet dissent and became the new proletariat of the digital India. We have drawn to a fleet of social web news for all bad reasons; for example, Dalit scholar Kanwal Bharti from Rampur, Uttar Pradesh was arrested for his Facebook post against the suspension of Durga Shakti Nagpal, an IAS officer.
Social media ghettos have become the lush green of animosity and evidential since Secunderabad based PUCL activist Jaya Vindhayala?s arrest, for objectionable postings on Facebook against Tamil Nadu Governor and Chirala MLA. Kanpur-based cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi has charged with posting seditious and obscene content on his website.
Ambikesh Mahapatra, a Jadavpur University chemistry professor and Subrata Sengupta, his friend, accomplished arrest for forwarding cartoons depicting Trinamool Congress supremo, Mamta Banerjee. Ravi Srinivasan, from being a minor businessman at Puducherry, was arrested by Police for allegedly targeting Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram in Twitter.
A new breed of solo dissenters made the ghettos more problematic and now social media is full of pollution and noise. S Manikandan?s blog arrest for posting a comment in his personal blog from India was the stated reason for his arrest in Dubai, says India Education Review (21 May 2013), a news portal.
Facebook made story again over the issue of freedom of expression when K H Muhammed Ali from Eloor, a Dubai municipality employee, who has charged by Kochi police for sedition. Ali clicked a ‘like’ on a Facebook page titled ‘I Love Pakistan’ and that a picture showing a dog clothed in the national flag was seen in his Facebook profile page.
Henna Bakshi from Chandigarh charged under the IT Act, who posted a comment peppered with abuses on the Facebook page of Union Territory traffic police after they failed to redress her complaint about the theft of her car.
The politics of contemporary India, obviously, has predicted to be fought at Facebook, uploaded in YouTube, and Tweeted at Twitter. Social media has enhanced politics more city centric because the new connectivity is among the new proletariat and they comprised educated, urban middle class Indians born at the cities and social media is their porn sphere, music sphere, search sphere, sex sphere, download sphere and many more.
USA, India and Brazil are the top three countries on Facebook. With 71 million Facebook users in India by December 2012, India accounts for the third largest Facebook country in the world. Twitter has emerged as a status symbol platform in India, with more than 12 million users, India is in the sixth place in terms of Twitter accounts, cites a report in beevolve.com.
However, women are the lowest users of Twitter, showing gnawing gender inequality in India. Bangalore is the top city in the world utilising Google+. LinkedIn reached twenty million registered members in India and second largest market after USA. India represents nine percent of its 225 million-user base worldwide.
Data released by Telecom Regulatory Authority of India for October 2012 month reported over 900 million wireless subscribers in the country. The dramatic growth in the usage of smart phone has been driven by a desire among users to stay connected to social networking sites.
Slums and ghettos are a matter of embarrassment. They are a matter of shame. However, they are the places where problems of civic living most starkly and dramatically represented. Social media ghettos, where digital nomads of Indian cities are living with a touch of village life have reproduced its embarrassment in social media.
In fact, we might see an impending Pakistan and an animated Bangladesh hiding behind every Facebook community. A misogynist in almost all chat forums irritates us. Among a fleet of networking sites, a potential casteist humiliates us. In the nebulous social media landscape, now we have almost reproduced misogyny, caste, race, gender, religion, hate etc.
The Romans had been great orators and evolved a republican tradition of arriving at decision by debates. The Greek had evolved great dialogical politics in the Agoras. However, in the social media agoras, a new kind of loudspeaker works. Failing and distancing by misfit, political class has migrated to the connective spaces.
Citizens have left ‘home’ to occupy digital spaces. People shrink to their shells to teleport themselves to the new sociality. We hoped that bliss prevails in connective spaces when government retreats form its earlier role.
Now, social media created much noise pollution, for it cannot surpass the town square, it cannot replace the government, and it cannot replace oratory and genuine writing. For all that matter it only reflected the ghettos.