Dr. Suprakash Roy appears in The Best Seller, a novel by Arunabha Sengupta.

A cyber conscious mender of minds, he is interested in the effect of the modern world of the internet and social networking in changing human behaviour.

The following are a demonstration of how the doctor's own mind works, extrapolated from the novel.

Powered by The Senantix Channels

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Net Effect - Politics 2.0

“The tweet is mightier than the blast,” may be the modern day sequel to analogous sentiments about the pen and the sword and the ballot and the bullet.

Twitter revolution may be crap
The human mind loves a panacea – a miracle cure. If it is powered by technology it becomes science’s answer to faith healing. Technology has made the world so flat that there is no place for the unscrupulous to hide. Any transgression which compromises human values will be scrapped – or tweeted, posted, walled, texted – electronically transferred across to millions of desktops, laptops, iPhones and so on and so forth …

Stop, stop … conspiracy theory has its clientèle, but we are sick and tired of a pessimistic psychiatrist casting his morose shadow over the dawn of a new era. More or less this is how my dear friend Shruti will always react, shaking her pretty and formidably intelligent head vigorously when I start bursting hopeful bubbles of the social network revolution.

I repeat my observations about the so called twitter revolution in Iran. New York Times had dramatised it as a battle between bullets and tweets. Supporters of social networks and technology had raised their electronic hands in collaborated salute to the victory of democracy in the cyber world.

And yet, in a detailed study after the debris of immediate euphoria were removed, it is declared that no more than 60 active twitter accounts exist in Iran. This revelation by Al Jazeera has largely put to rest the romantic christening of the twitter revolution. Yet, more to my point is what followed in its wake.

With the endorsement of the American media – the cyber urban myth of twitter protests caught on. And when the State department requested Twitter to delay the scheduled maintenance fearing disconnection of rebellious tweets, the Iranian authorities decided to put an embargo on social networks. The FaceBook accounts of the ones entering the country were checked for possible anti-national leanings.
The social networks can as easily be used by an unscrupulous authority to achieve exactly the opposite of the freedom and democracy that many believe the Internet and technologies bless us with. Besides, as Evgeny Morozov points out in his pessimistic manifesto The Net Delusion, the publicised optimism of the west about the social networks make the authoritarian regimes more vigilant when it comes to information flow.

Great Firewall of China
I have often maintained, that the propensity of the generation to be more focused on the world wide web rather than the whole wide world makes it more prone to manufactured consent. China has shown us that it is possible to be economically active on the web even when free information flow is restricted by the great firewall – showing that the world has remained stubbornly spherical in some regions. Add to that, it has an army of paid government bloggers for prodding the electronic herd into the desired mindset. In another part of the world, Hugo Chavez is on twitter and there is a reason behind it.

I refuse to believe that the West is absolutely innocent in this regard. With the cyber snifferbots busy detecting dissident phrases, keywords and sensitive information, is no censorship, blocking and spying performed by the friendly neighbourhood organisations like CIA and NSA? Legions of stasis need not be deployed for big brother to watch you in the new world view, some programmed bots will do it efficiently. And thanks to the esoteric electronic world, there will be no file storage establishments to be converted into museums later on. The virtual world is heaven for mind controllers.

Apart from this, let us not forget a very basic premise. The Internet, at the end of the day, is a huge source of entertainment for many, social networking most frivolously so. A captivating source of distraction which also boosts our ego by providing the pseudo satisfaction of projecting us as limited but zealous political messiahs.
If all that it takes to satisfy our politically conscious gene is to share a wall post, we can turn to the next semi pornographic item number on you tube with a clear conscience. With all these television channels and delicious feeds awaiting us on social media, is there too much time left for the traditional news channel? I think not. Political consciousness is not being built by the individual today through general awareness ... it is being mass manufactured in the cyber world by tweets and wall posts.
And when constant entertainment in this form is available, very few individuals actually think of taking to the streets for issues which are close to their heart. As it is, a important issues of one moment are buried in the next through information overload. Just reflect at how quickly WikiLeaks has been relegated to the remote recesses of our psyche.

The cross on the TV Tower
When the Fernsehturm , the TV tower in Berlin, stood reaching way up towards the heavens, almost in Freudian symbolism, the two Germanys used it to mock each other. To the East Germans, it was something that showed the West the stature and progress of the communist east. While the West Germans pointed out that when the sun shone on the silvery ball, the light was reflected in the shape of a cross, God’s way of mocking the godless. The Americans were happy at the promise of a better world that the people under a commie regime could witness from the American television shows. However, the truth was something much more down to earth. With the entire country tuning in to American television shows for relaxed entertainment, very few remained willing to take to the streets for a revolution.

History, in this sense, is being retold with technological amplifiers. The constant diversion, provided in the manner of the unpredictable roulette of red notifications and messages waiting, make addicts out of the majority – consuming the packets of data, clicking away in connected stupor. For authoritarian regimes, governments with vested interests, and the expanding imperialists, the opium of the people has been manufactured anew. Revolutions may not need suppression anymore – a well crafted and shared writing on the wall will do it admirably.
Political Consciousness on Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

My photo
A novelist and cricket historian, Arunabha Sengupta is the author of three novels and the Chief Cricket Writer on cricketcountry.com. In his novels he deals with the contemporary world with acerbic humour. In his cricket writings he covers the history and romance in the game, while his post graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces