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Impact of social media: Exceptional or exaggerated?

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Rama Moondra: Not so long ago, social media was just another source of entertainment. It was an extra accessory, mostly of youngsters, mainly to upload about their own lives and flaunt it before others.

In the past 15 years, approximately, social media has become a fully integrated part of the daily lives of most people. The biggest change that it brought within was to become a catalyst for political and social movements, globally. It became a platform for common people seeking change.

Social media has now become the buzz sector in promotions that incorporates business, creates associations, makes or mars brands, influence campaigns, and so on and so forth.

The connectivity, whether it is of a mere individual or a big brand, has reached another level as one can reach masses in no time.

People share information on social media because they strongly feel for a cause, post valuable information, do image and brand building, and participate in ever-evolving discussions. But, the most important cause is to stay connected with the world.

Social media’s reach is far and wide. In comparison to any other medium’s influence on political campaigns, social media’s influence has increased tremendously.  Social networks have played a tremendous role in electoral politics in the 2014 general elections in India, again in 2019, and almost in every election conducted in the country.

Another interesting side of the story is that the cyberactivism of social media has slowly moved into real-life to create positive changes as well.

Two very prominent incidents happened in the past month and created a storm on the internet. The first one is the ‘Baba Ka Dhaba’ incident in which a food blogger and YouTuber posted a video of an old couple struggling to run their food outlet in Delhi’s Malviya Nagar due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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As soon as the video was uploaded, it went viral and in no time, “Baba ka Dhaba” became new rage. Everyone, including jazzy cameras of the press, covered Baba and his matar paneer.

The YouTuber was praised wholeheartedly by the netizens for helping out the elderly couple. It is a different issue that the same YouTuber is now facing accusations of duping the couple.

There are many more needy people who are vying for attention to earn their daily bread. A similar thing had happened for Agra’s ‘Kanji Bade Wala’. The old man rose to fame and also started earning better.

There are equal or probably a greater number of stories of influential brand campaigns not going in a positive direction. Tanishq became a brand that was subject to many angry reactions and also lost Rs 2,700 crore in a single day in stock market valuations.

What went wrong with Tanishq and many such brands is the timing of the situation. Social media can fathom the sentiments of common people. Many such platforms, including Facebook, have not been able to understand and have made many mistakes.

But, the fact remains that social media is here to stay, grow and make people popular or otherwise, make or mar the brands, create overnight sensations out of ordinary souls and above all, to connect with strangers. After all, every friend we have today was a stranger once upon a time.

 

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