04 May 2017

Individuals as nations: Role of Social Media



There was a time when if one wanted to stage a coup de e'tat one usually captured the radio station and the TV station first. So in many ways the Radio Station and TV station epitomises (or used to) the most visible form of state power. But with the advent of social media and smart phones now every individual has his or her own TV station, newspaper, movies and all that which earlier was only available to a despot. Thanks to social media and smart phones, individuals are now taking on the roles and dimensions of nations. It is interesting to see that with these powers how individuals have started behaving like tin pot little countries. People are behaving like nations on social medial. But not like free, liberal thinking utopic democracies but more like totalitarian despotic regimes. And that should not be surprising, afterall one individual can only be totalitarian without being branded as schizophrenic. The posts on facebook, instagram and others are more like propaganda machinery. Exaggerating the good parts of one's life - pictures of gondola ride in venice and scuba diving in havelock. Dressed up selfies reminding one of touched up pictures of a handsome looking Stalin when everone knows how he looked. Twitter personas is slightly different. While they are used for propaganda of pet projects and concerns, they are also organs of diplomacy of this one person totalitarian regime . Retweets are used for positive diplomacy with other such tin pot nations. While trolling is used in the same vein as US condemns Iran or Syria. And just like the US uses different language and tones for Nicaragua or Russia, similarly our single person- nation regimes use different levels of emojis for political opponents, bosses, significant others and all and sundry. Mud slinging matches are enacted in full view of twitter followers (read other friendly and neutral regimes) much as nations indulge in filibuster at the United Nations. Live feeds are something different. While there are seeming parallels with propaganda on TV by Kim Jong Un, they are more like those TV celebs trying to garner TRPs. A singularly un-nation like activity but nevertheless promoting the totalitarian despot out to build a personality cult much like Robert Mugabe or Mao Zedong.
In many ways the hashtag wars, twitter trolling, hates, fake news, meme wars are really the dimensions of two or more states fighting a diplomatic war rather than two quibbling individuals. Or may be it is the other way round, the wars between nation states of yester years was more like quibbling individuals who had got state power? Any way you look at it the borders and definitions of nations and individuals seem to be blurring and coalescing. Over the millennia after multiple catastrophic wars, nations have made a semblance of a diplomatic protocol and mechanisms to avoid  full fledged war. This is the time that individuals too built mechanisms more robust than these to similar avoid social media confrontations.

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