Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Times They Are a-Changin’

Social networking as an agent of change.

While on the 20th of April, like all regular Wednesdays, we were scurrying off to our tasks, oblivious to the rest of the world, a few amongst us gathered for a cause in a refreshingly odd manner. The 'Please Mend The Gap’ initiative organised a flash-mob to sensitize Delhi Metro travelers towards harassment of women passengers. The thirty people who participated, and others who promoted it, heard of it through Facebook. They then tweeted about it using #flashmob and #delhi as hashtags. Though the turnout for this first of its kind initiative wasn’t huge, it was a brilliant start.

A fortnight ago, twitter users saw #freefaizan trending. Started by Amnesty International India, this campaign sought to free a 14 year old boy detained for stone pelting in Kashmir. He was eventually released on sympathy grounds after garnering support from micro-bloggers worldwide, a majority of whom directed their tweets to the state CM, Omar Abdullah.

Not quite so long ago, social networking fueled one of the most influential revolutions in modern times by garnering international support and organizing the protests. The Egypt Revolution had a palpating presence online to the extent that each of us would feel the pain of every martyr slain, anxiously await any news and finally rejoice in the victory.

Social Networking has officially arrived as a way of life; as an increasingly potent weapon waiting to be harnessed and used for bringing about a new phenomenon every day. It is, indeed, mind boggling to even picture the impact and presence social media has had in our lives since the last few years. Unknowingly and unconsciously we have molded ourselves to fit in; to get used to it as it slowly creeps into every aspect of our daily lives. It has now gone well beyond pictures and status messages. Marketing, as we knew it, has been redefined. With social media consultancies mushrooming everywhere it is evident how every company wants its share of the client’s attention. For things as small as summer internships to college fests, networking and publicity was never so simple or direct.

Social networking has made the world fit into this tiny shell with huge networks, which connect each to the other. It is paradoxical, how on one hand we lie holed up, glued to our computers while simultaneously building relationships of trust with people from not just different parts of the world, but different social strata and cliques. Social networking brought about a lot of changes; none compares to the change in perceptions.

But if what it has taught us were to be summed up, it would be just the one thing: to never be complacent. It has taught us to raise a voice when dissatisfied and make ourselves heard. Complacency and procrastinating die when making a change is as simple as a few clicks. If you want change, chances are a majority of the others do too. With the power of social networking today, change isn’t tough and it isn’t far. Today, I know I can.

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