Shoulders That Carrying The World Can Not Falter
The Power That Tech Takes And We Give
I grew up watching Advertisements on the TV. And a lot of them wanted to make the Indian skin fair and lovely.
The days of advertising “Fairness” have long gone, but I bet a lot of Indian Moms still look for fair brides for their sons.
The impact that these advertisements had on the impressionable mind of crores of Indians was at least long-lasting, if not perpetual.
Here is the blast from the past.
Times have changed and Technologies have changed.
We have shifted from TVs to Social Media.
As Social Media and Tech rapidly accelerate the pace of information dispersal, trends and obsessions catch easy. And this is without the additional focussed targeting.
Trends seem to come and go, but the impact that it has on the lives of people are wide, varied and deep. The impact they have on more innocent lives who are not yet fully acclimated with the wild wild world outside is deeper and more dangerous.
I recently started running. Which means I decided to go full-on crazy with shopping for gear, ad following related accounts on all social media channel.
And it did not take me much time to realize that the images consistently had the commonality of perfect Abs and nice toned legs.
And that could be aspirational and inspirational.
But it could also be interpreted in ways that could damage one's self-esteem and prevent one from taking up a good healthy choice, or worse, give up easier than you intended.
Body positivity is important for a healthy sense of self.
This is why I could not have been happier when I saw the news of Pinterest’snewAd policy promoting healthy body image.
As per Pinterest’s new policy, they intend to prohibit all advertisements with weight loss language and imagery. The prohibited content includes before and after images, any references of Body Mass Index (BMI), weight loss products, and much more.
I see this as a hope that others in the industry would follow suit.
After all this positivity I could not be more surprised at the next piece of news I got.
Not only has Instagram not taken a step towards the positive, but it has magnified the impact of the negative.
It was found that teenagers, who interacted with even a single post of a sportswear brand were distributed content about dieting and weight loss.
Adults, aware of the effects of echo chambers and being stuck in filter bubbles are usually helpless to take corrective measures, talk about more vulnerable teenagers who have not yet witnessed the bigger world.
The Role of Tech
In India parents making statements like “Back in our days….” and “Today’s kids are spoiled by Technology” are very common.
It's rather amusing to me (An Indian born and brought up with such statements), but it also shows the hidden sentiments.
Yes, Technology has made certain things more complicated. But it has also made certain things extremely easy.
It’s a rather interesting human reaction to associate all that is good in humans with God and the bad with Technology.
I am not going to condemn Instagram for the observed behavior. If anything there is a possibility that this was an unnoticed behavior triggered by their algorithms. It is easy enough to understand how a piece of code can interpret based on behavior that a person is interested in sports, and recommend them more of the similar.
The fault also lies in the creators who are responsible for creating content that does not do much for the moral fiber of society.
But it would be responsible to completely acquit the Tech industry of all the charges. They do owe a debt to society and should be held responsible for not destroying what serves them.
When humans discovered fire, I am sure there were people proclaiming that it would be the end of the human race. All it did was help make food tastier, but it could burn down the forest.
Technology is no different. It helps us order cabs, the book stays, and purchase items from across the world, but it also has the potential to destroy.
The burden on the shoulders of the Technology Industry is huge and it needs to be acknowledged, carried, and done justice to.