Is social media attempting social change?
Why is social media suddenly going overboard in its attempt to create social relevance, wonders an old-timer.
AD: Hi, you seem deep in thought.
BC: Nothing, just wondering about how the human mind works.
AD: Ah, so what were you reading last night — Freud or Sherlock Holmes?
BC: Neither — I was reading about the buzz created online by an ad for gold jewellery.
AD: Why, didn't you like the ad?
BC: Oh, I thought it was truly clutter-breaking in terms of its scripting and was fabulously shot.
AD: So you have a problem with the ad going viral?
BC: Not at all. On the contrary, I'm happy that so many people have appreciated a good ad. You can't say the same of movies, where the bad ones find overwhelming acceptance and the good ones receive a mere clap or two.
AD: So what's the problem?
BC: I'm just amazed at social media's constant search to glorify something, even if it means reading non-existent subtext.
AD: Hold on, you're losing me.
BC: I would have been happy if the ad had been circulated because it was a great ad. Instead, it has suddenly been anointed as the voice that speaks out for widow remarriage and…
AD: That isn't subtext — that's the script! It's about a woman who gets married again.
BC: I know that — but look at what social media has turned an ad for wedding jewellery into...
AD: But it's looking at the current societal changes — or it's at least looking forward to such changes in society.
BC: Correction — the ad's selling jewellery. It's social media that's looking at the ad championing changes in society.
AD: So what are you arriving at?
BC: Why are we labouring to put the ‘social’ into social media? We either spend hours catering to our personal egos or we go to the other extreme and suddenly attempt a stab at social consciousness. It brings me back to my point on armchair activism — we feel that we have done our bit for society simply by forwarding something or clicking on the Like button...
AD: It's definitely a forward looking ad.
BC: No doubt, but as I mentioned before, it's a great ad about a woman who chooses a particular brand of jewellery when she's getting married — again. Suddenly, this ad has begun a trend — not in advertising, but in social media, with people flocking to post ads that have social connotations. Suddenly, there's an ad for a beverage about a single mother inspiring her son to come first, that's being hailed as the taboo-breaker for women.
AD: I've seen the link of an earlier ad for a women's magazine that also played up the remarriage theme...
BC: Where is all this going to end? I've seen an ad where two kids wait for a biscuit truck to go over a bump each day and pick up the biscuit packets that tumble out. So is that the sign of a confectionery manufacturer promoting social awareness about orphans?
AD: How do you know they are orphans?
BC: Well, just because they don't show a father, you've assumed that it's a single mom bringing up her son. So...
AD: How can you be sarcastic about social issues?
BC: I'm not. All I'm saying is that social media has become putty in our hands. Each day, it becomes what we make of it. If you really want to talk about social media triggering a revolution, please look up Egypt...
AD: The comparison doesn't hold good; this is an ad...
BC: Precisely what I'm saying. And talking of subtexts, there's also a section of the social media that has praised the ad for casting a dusky actor in the lead role. This, despite the fact that the director of the film has categorically stated that casting an actor with a dusky complexion wasn't a deliberate move. Again, it's the social media that's going to town with what it believes are the social statements of the ad. This is almost like looking at Michelangelo's paintings and looking for hidden meanings and messages. Once you begin, there's no end to it.
AD: Well, there are two sides to every story and this has two as well — social and cynical.
BC: The irony of it all is that the lure of gold is considered the ultimate in material pursuits.
BC: Isn't it funny how we have transformed an ad that exhorts us to give in to our material pursuits, into the spark that is meant to trigger a social revolution?