There is not a single day when I scroll my Facebook feed or go to Twitter or watch TV and NOT see people fighting about something. The sheer amount of hate that I see today in people around me is astounding. And It’s everywhere. The recent revelations by Cambridge Analytica and Cobrapost show how big corporates and media houses, in greed to be even richer, are destroying the empathy and love in us. To grow richer, to stay in power, they’re feeding you hate.
That same hate has made you so blind that you can’t see past the other person’s gender, sexual orientation, color, religion, caste or basically any other trait that you don’t share or agree with.
When, how and why did it start?
Contrary to the popular belief, this phenomenon is not new. As soon as a big enough chunk of the society start consuming any form of media, the rich and powerful start trying to control it, to maintain their influence. First, there were newspapers, then came the television, then with the advent of the internet, this game got more sophisticated and bigger. Now, you could influence the whole world in less than 140 characters.
First came the corporates, showing their ads, pushing their products at every turn. But they soon realised that people were getting smarter so they shifted their agenda. Now, they weren’t just trying to sell you the product, they wanted to make you one. Creating ads that don’t feel like ads. Capitalising on the emotions of people was far more effective and profitable than to show them an ad. And guess what? They soon realised that people were highly gullible. That they weren’t just limited to existing emotions, they can create emotions. They could make people outrage, they could make them sad or guilty or they could make them open happiness, at will.
What’s happening now?
These corporates made a fortune from these social media and television ads. But they wanted more. How could they churn out more profit from people? Simple. You control the ones who make the rules.
Politicians and political parties have a huge influence on people, both direct and indirect. In some countries, people are willing to even kill for them, for free. Every political party wants to come into power, to form a government. Because once they do, the whole game changes. They become the rule makers. They can legally make people do what they want them to do.
But they need money to come into power. Who can give them that kind of money? Maybe someone who already has lots of it and wants to have a friend who can help him make even more.
Yep, the corporates.
See, the relationship between the corporates and political parties is a win-win^10000 . Together, they are such a profitable machinery that they literally rule the world. There is nothing that they can’t do. Start a ‘revolution’, bring ‘peace’ to another country, pass bills that help them make even more money…..you name it.
But they still want more. More money, more power.
They realise that people are highly unpredictable. To stay in power, You need to keep them in check.
And that’s where media comes into play.
What is the media’s role?
See earlier, corporates figured out that not only they can capitalise on people’s emotions, they can actually engineer them. They realised that the technique that they used for selling their product can also be used to sell a propaganda. See, political parties don’t have a tangible product to sell, what they have is an ideology. You can’t sell an ideology as a physical product, you have to do it another way. You have to be smart, consistent and subtle. There’s one way that they can do that – Controlling the media.
Repeat a lie enough times and it becomes the truth. Today, media is everywhere. You spend most of your day consuming information from one of these media channels. That makes it the perfect platform to push someone’s agenda. Even if you are conscious about your information intake, you can’t escape the constant bombardment of fake news and propaganda from everywhere. They’re feeding you hate with the very thing that was supposed to show you the truth.
This is what Cambridge Analytica and Cobrapost’s Sting showed. If you followed/watched them you’d understand how did they operate and why it was so successful. Take Cobrapost as an example. The reporter, Pushp Sharma, goes to these media houses with the Hindutva agenda that he wants to push. He says that first, he wants to start with ‘soft-hindutva’. Bhajans, Bhagwad Geeta quotes, live telecast of Ganga Aarti etc. Later, when the elections come close, those same media channels start pushing his real agenda. Posting negative news about the opposition, the minorities and whatnot – influencing public opinion just before elections.
But why do they start with soft hindutva? To reel them in. Any religious person, regardless of their political inclination, feels good when he/she is shown something good about his/her God. The soft hindutva phase is to target those people – innocent individuals who love their religion. I mean, what is wrong about loving your own religion? But these power hungry people don’t care about your sentiments. They just want more power and they know they can get it by toying with your faith. Once they have you under their influence, you/me/anyone would defend them, as someone who’d defend their faith.
Cobrapost showed how the traditional media – news channels, engineer mass opinions for money. I mean it’s more money than most of us have ever seen in our lives but it’s still wrong. The sting had almost all of the major news channels and media houses accepting bribes, showing paid news, engineering opinions, pushing agenda and even laundering money.
On the digital side, things are worse. As the public shifted from traditional media to digital, the politicians did too. All these pages, all these influencers, all these paid trolls are there to keep you under control. You can see the tools with which they’re feeding you hate – fake news, photoshopped images, and bogus articles is the new norm. And you believe that, because they have made you believe that they are fighting for YOUR cause – One that you didn’t even know you had.
On Facebook and Twitter, things have gotten so bad that if you say something about the current government, an army of faceless people, the online trolls will come and abuse the crap out of you. People who don’t want conflict will back off, which is considered a ‘win’ for these trolls. But even the ones who want to fight back can’t because of the sheer number of them.
Why Hate though? And how is it changing us?
They’re feeding you hate because it sells.
The people are angry. They’re frustrated at every point in their lives. There are no jobs, no good colleges or schools, no good healthcare, you have to bribe your way in the world. Even those who have jobs have to work long hours, get stuck in traffic, and sometimes even have to work on the weekends, for a salary that is barely enough to survive for a month, without so much as a ‘thank you’.
You realise that there is no one who will help you. Not your company, not your boss, no one.
So along comes a person that says this particular person or this particular community/religion is the cause of all your problems. Suddenly, all your problems have a name, a face. Would you let go of such a vent that allows you take out all your frustration?
I am not saying that giving in to such a way out makes you a bad person. This is perhaps one of the major traits that makes you human. But look at the cost. Is it worth it? Is taking out all your anger that you have for life on people who’re going through the same crap as you worth it? Is it worth starting a fight over? Is it worth killing over?
Look at how it has changed us. People are now killing each other in the name of caste, in the name of religion, hell, in the name of your political affiliation. People are so angry today that as soon as they see the ‘villain’, they lose it. And it’s killing the country.
See they’re feeding you hate and they’ll keep on doing this. I mean, why wouldn’t they? It’s REALLY profitable for everyone. Except for you. You have to decide, whether to give in because you’re angry at the world or with life or anything. Or, you take control, not of politics, not of media but of yourself. You can decide not to fall into the propaganda they’re feeding, not to give into hate. Who knows? Maybe someday, you’ll be able to fight these powerful forces and win, together as brothers, as Indians.
Image Sources – Wikimedia Commons, Pixabay, Pxhere, Flickr, Publicdomainpictures.net