Converging The Self With The Civilisation

An analysis on how converging various forms of media is bringing together the various demographies of society.

Gowri Diwakar, in her textbook on sociology, describes a family to be the only selfless setup which brings together people to fulfill each other’s demands of existence. People of all ages exist in a society, and often we see that only a few films or shows can bind a family unit together. The reason for this, is the appeal of content to all types of people in a family- the old and the young, the man and the woman, the child and the adult.

Since this structure could not exist for long, media intervened and brought variety to the content people received and consumed.

We remember a time when newspapers were grabbed by the man of the house or the young student who wanted to know the ongoings in society, while women grabbed magazines especially made for them- away from politics, with soft stories and recipes and children took a liking to reading with comics like Chacha Chaudhary, Nandan and Champak. Books have been written for different audiences, and radio shows also followed this format. Television came, and we saw how prime time slots were full of reality shows which the family could wholesomely watch. Morning slots were full of astrology and bhakti songs for the old generation, while late night shows took the liberty of being suggestive and expressive.

And when the world of communication seemed almost complete, the internet came about and changed our lives forever.

Started in the 1970s, this new platform connected people across nations based on their interests. If you had a family but did not share interests with them, you could make a friend you could otherwise not meet, on the ‘web’ that connected the world.

Slowly people’s worlds got limited into the web, and there are anecdotes available that parents would “BBM” or send a Blackberry messenger message to their children to come down to eat, living in the same house!

As books and calculators lost their functions, radio became limited to an app in the phone which was slowly obsoleted by the OTT platforms like Gaana and Wynk. TV was unthreatened, but Netflix too, came and claimed a spot. The internet was ruling, and existing media became ‘traditional’- a term which was otherwise confined to street theatre and folk songs or puppet shows.

The newspaper was now unneeded as the apps gave news, Twitter became the official spokesperson of celebrated people, and all our books became paperless with Kindle.

An advertising campaign by Idea Network in the late 2000s showed people transacting money through phones. The UPI interface has made this a reality too. Like the ad showed, trees would be saved as we go paperless.

We can digitise the photo albums of our parents and grand parents, and pictures which would otherwise be eaten up by termites or lost in calamities. And if we think that the smartphone is just here to replace, here is what convergent media offers:

  1. Convergence is a chance to innovate. People have access to better content because they have a variety of options.
  2. In the lack of time and space, or financial constraints, people can access written and audio-visual content on one place.
  3. Social media is a digital archive for what people said and did, which makes them responsible towards future generations and puts to record the good deeds people left in the world as they transgressed into an otherworldly reality.
  4. Media houses have begun investing in fewer staff that is also multi-tasking and cost-effective, which makes it imperial for journalists to be talented and the best in their lot to thrive.
  5. Platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram connect people and document their daily life, while Twitter is an accountable app to record statements of people in short words. YouTube is a medium where the consumer can produce content and become Prosumer, one who produces and consumes simultaneously.

To me, the nature of convergent media is very democratic and encouraging for people to have a voice and choice over what they watch, and what they want to tell the people in power.

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