April 20, 2019

Why did Twitter Succeed?

There is a reason why social media, Twitter in particular, has become as popular as it has. The reason is not too far to look. It satiates the desire of people to look for real news and its implications. This job was originally meant to be done by the Main Stream Media (MSM) which was supposed to be the voice of people. Apart from giving an account of the goings on in the country, MSM was also supposed to help you shape your opinion on various issues. Unfortunately, most of the MSM failed miserably in their duty. As the media’s stand on Brexit and Trump’s election has shown, the narrative has moved to the right, whereas they remain on the left.

The entire MSM the world over conveyed only ‘a’ point of view, which was deeply aligned with the left. Why they were aligned with the left, I’ll discuss a little later. But since there were so many news papers and channels (later) it became a case of competitive left liberalism. Each media house tried to outdo the other by moving even further to the left. Slowly but surely left liberalism became the only rallying point within the media.

This begets the question as to why should they be so. The answer to this question is also not very difficult to find. It started from the Second World War which was seen to have been caused by the extreme right wing nationalism of the German Nazis. This impression in people’s minds wasn’t wrong. Nazis were helped in this war by the right wing fascists of Italy and imperialistic Japan. For the media, it seemed only too correct to ridicule the right wing and its policies which led to the war and untold suffering for common people. What was good for the goose had to be good for the gander as well. If the right wing in Germany deserved to be ridiculed, then the right wing in America too had to be treated the same way. Moreover, despite subtle differences both were die hard Christians, and white to boot as well. Secondly, portraying the plight of the poor as well as disparities between them and the rich as a result of right wing economic policies seemed to get them more eyeballs, which in turn fetched them more advertising revenue. This made them ridicule the right wing even further, and so, the vicious cycle continued.

The media houses in other countries blindly took their cue from America and conveniently became left aligned. It worked for a while since there was no other alternative available. The right wing had very few takers, or so they believed. The assumption that all kinds of right wing in every country is the same and had to be brushed aside or ridiculed proved to be their undoing. Right wing in different countries means different things. Media houses overlooked this major issue. They just blindly followed the American model. Endorsements in terms of ad revenue from left of center ruling parties also contributed immensely in this decision.

And then, the internet happened. People started getting connected with each other in more ways than one. Initially, the media houses did not complain. They thought that internet would help them in selling their sob stories even faster than before and to far off places. This too worked for a while. But then, wheels of natural justice took over. Innovation led to creation of social media sites like facebook, orkut, twitter etc.

The first forms of such sites were just a platform to engage socially. People just exchanged pictures and social greetings. Twitter changed all that. Days of long monologues were over. You had to be precise and to the point. People loved this platform. Finally, they could say whatever they wanted to, of course within the four walls of decency, without being moderated upon. Initially, many well known names of MSM also happily embraced it and soon developed a large following. They found short exchanges with their readers and viewers meaningful. However, people were not as dumb as MSM believed them to be. They soon realized that they could not just interact with these well known names but even question them on their news stories. Not only this, they also realized that they could exchange ideas with like-minded people and point out mistakes in news stories, and reach out to millions within seconds. The bluff of MSM had been called. They could now be challenged. And they were. In India, Radia tapes episode was a prime example of the power of social media. The social media did not adhere to the unwritten rule of the MSM to discuss their own. The journalists involved in Radia tapes stood thoroughly exposed. The MSM was forced to discuss this issue. Slowly but surely, in a matter of just a few years, their agenda was being dictated by the social media. Reluctantly, however nuanced it was, they were still forced to shift towards the right.

For the MSM moving towards the right is not an easy job. By being there, they’re well out of their comfort zones. It’s also not like one day you get up and make a switch to the right. That’s because there is no such switch. The reasons for this are two fold. Firstly, once a media house has been known to propagate a particular line of thought they get branded as such. And the MSM has been doing this for many decades now. As any marketer will tell you, once you get branded in a particular manner, however hard you may try, it is next to impossible to change that perception in the minds of people. If a media house is known to be left centric, it will be extremely difficult to shake off that perception in people’s mind.

Secondly, these media houses are controlled by editors and experts who come from left of center backgrounds. This is so because educational institutions too were organized to produce left of center ideologues. This too was so for the same reason as the media. It made the education system look credible and appealing whose products could fight the tyranny of the right as well as the rich. If such people control the media today, it would be foolhardy to expect them to shift their positions any further than they already have.

It is therefore no surprise that right wing dominates the opinion on the internet the world over, especially twitter. In simple terms, right wing controls the social media because of the preponderance of the left in the MSM. In doing so, it does a balancing act, which is natural justice.

Author:  Lt. Col. (R) Manish Jaitly

@poorafauji Writer of “Oh My Gods” http://manishjaitly.com/

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Picture Credit: Wikipedia Twitter


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