At Least Something Is Not RIGHT

A Sunday morning, you wake up, a bit late, and casually open up your daily news app (Google News, Inshorts, NewsHunt/DailyHunt etc. whichever you may like) and are shocked to know about the Kollam, Kerala tragedy. More than 100 people(the count is increasing) have lost their lives due to the “mishap” in a temple where fireworks were going on despite repeated warnings to temple administration to avoid extravagant fireworks. A joyful occasion turned many years joyless for hundreds of affected families.

You are appalled by the unfortunate event and many thoughts come to your mind on why this, what that etc. But the event has not directly impacted you, your relatives and friends are fine(I don’t have many living in Kerala) and you move on to your daily Social Media Scroll Down.

As you browse through stories, newsfeed on Facebook, you realise it’s been 7 hours since this horrendous event took place and you haven’t seen any posts so far in your feed by your friends or pages you like. 
Ah, could be this is Top Stories section you are browsing, I always hate Facebook defaulting to Top stories and not Most Recent without any reason, you switch to most recent, you are now seeing few recent stories but to add to your anxiousness, no updates on Kollam tragedy yet. So it’s been around 100 feed updates you have browsed with a mix of likes, updates from US related pages, lot of friends posting on their happy checkins, many useless group updates which you never wanted to see and X Y Z whatever.

You begin to wonder WHY, WHY, WHY?

Warning: The content below will seem like a random rant and it probably won’t help you make your day in next 10 minutes, if you can please read patiently else move on to something pleasant.

Reason No. 1: Maybe it’s just 10:30 now and most of your Indian friends haven’t completed their Sunday sleep which would have started around the time of tragedy (3AM), so obviously you won’t have many posts from them. You feel sad on how bad they would feel once they look in the smart screen before the mirror.

But…. you had seen few friend updates and there are definitely Indian media houses and politicians whose page I like/follow, they would have posted about this, or even foreign media houses, it’s such a devastating tragedy. So again why is it missing? You switch to Facebook trends to see if it is a Trending topic, No ! and sadly you come to know Nepal has been struck by another earthquake tremor almost a year later when that calamity took place.

Facebook Trend at 10:45 AM

Your hatred for Facebook trends increases, I have observed this, again and again, it mostly shows, if I may say, RUBBISH trends (at least 80% of them)and not at all of my interest.

In times of attacks, I have seen Facebook trends fail miserably in terms of being real-time. They usually reflect late than Twitter. Maybe Facebook is yet to perfect this feature since it was copied only recently. I don’t have statistical data to comment on this but this is from my observation and being a heavy social media user.

Or.. Is it worse ! May be one of those attacks, where Social Media or Main Stream Media fails you, the ones where there is selective outrage, the ones which get ignored/ less reported just like Boko Haram attacks in Nigeria, you would hardly notice the coverage justifying the scale of damage as compared to an attack on western countries or “mainstream” countries. Just like we ignore coverage of Assam, North East and even Kolkata or Chennai for that matter and many other states while being bombarded with issues of Delhi and Mumbai most likely, be it a sneeze of celebrity or fart by a politician or local first world problems of that city alone or even rape in a metro is different from multiple rapes in villages away from it.

From my elementary observation, Boko Haram in Nigeria and attacks like those in the Middle East, Africa have killed way more people and the frequency of attacks, the impact too has been huge on lives of people except in Media or on Us. So could Kerala too be a case of “Selective Outrage”, “Selective Social Media”, “Sensational Media” , it’s too early to call and in this case at least our “MainStream” media will provide footage and some coverage till the next sensational mainstream issue pops up. Kerala has been covered a bit in media recently due to the election otherwise I feel it too is disadvantaged in getting the proper share of coverage from our Media/Social Media.

Switch to Twitter, I can see tweets from Narendra Modi, NDTV etc and with a mix of tweets its their in my first 25 tweets, and I assume most of these are connected accounts so WHAT WAS FACEBOOK MISSING? Yes I understand these two are different social networks and the way I would have built my Facebook or Twitter profile too matters but shouldn’t both have important topics covered the similar way?

Back to the Trends, again there is a stark difference, Twitter trends reflect accurately for realtime events most of the times, (excluding the couple of daily troll trends and 1–2 paid ones)

Twitter trends are more dynamic compared to Facebook, as in they change more frequently and are more customised accordingly to your location while Facebook trends don’t have a promoted trend yet I am reminded of a long pending tough question. “Is it trends that drive posts or posts that drive trend” ? (Would try to read more on any research work thats been done). Obviously it’s related but I am curious on which social network the effect is more prominent for one factor affecting the other and why so. On Twitter, while posting suggested trends do appear helping channelize/categorise the post. IMO on Twitter trends drive posts and also trends are driven by posts more in comparison to Facebook, no empirical data again but just purely on observation having used these two actively. I do have few heuristics and there to support if required.

Isn’t this all worrying? and the reason I Titled it this way. With everything being labeled RIGHT across the world, be it US elections where Trump is leading! or BJP’s performance here relying on Modi and RSS,
But things are actually not right with the way we consume Media/Social Media. Be it Facebook’s strategy to undermine organic posts and expect everyone to switch to promotion based strategy , or it’s weird News Feed whose ever-changing algorithm angers me everyday. Despite having so many Friends in most cases less than 20% friends would see that update. I won’t go into details of these but aren’t these chilling reminders of how our opinions, our thoughts are subject to control from agents which are prone to manipulation with a little throw of money ? Is this what we call a free market, free media in a world full of inequalities.

Why are certain things Mainstream while rest are thrown down the stream?

These are ramblings of a frustrated worried social media addicted citizen, who just wants to know why so much is wrong and why are we not fixing it ? Or failing to fix it ? It’s high time we borrow some focus from senseless sensational debating on RIGHT and try to regain our rights of access to unbiased media and a meaningful community interaction on social media.

On another note, I don’t intend to take advantage of the Kollam tragedy to drive my social media rants, it’s just that every time a tragedy happens, something feels not right on the way we react, it’s often either extreme or missing, and it never sustains long enough to have an impact. Social Media(SM) and Main Stream Media (MSM) are where we spend most of our times and would increasingly be immersed in them in upcoming times, we shouldn’t become mere consumers while hardly noticing that our rights, our brains have been consumed.

Meanwhile, these are the snapshots, as I finish this post at 12:30pm of trends. My friends would be awake and busy deciding whether to have lunch or breakfast! I hope I could provide some Food for Thought!

#Kollam #SocialMedia #Media #Journalism #Facebook #Twitter

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