For a long time I’ve been told it’s a blessing to be a Bangalorean. Most of my family lives in Chennai, and while I was young my cousins and I used to fight over who’s city was a better living place. I don’t really like to be a winner under the current circumstances considering the harrowing loss my birth place is going through. However, looking at the great support that is coming from Bengaluru to support the Humans of Chennai, I feel liberated to say that we are all humans, and belong to a land called Earth; there are no borders or diversities in culture, climate or rules that can separate us from being united.
To those who are contributing to help Chennai during this storm and flooding, Thank You! I bow to your soul for your act of humanity.
How many times have you watched the news or read the paper and felt relieved or happy about a report? When was the last time you heard something good on live television (I mean networks like BBC, CNN, NDTV and not your entertainment channels)? How many discussions and debates of Arnab Goswami have you sat through and thought to self, “If that man yells once more, I might just shoot the television!”
Back in primary school, they’d made it mandatory for us to carry home The Hindu every weekend. I’d browse through Young World and give the main broadsheet to my parents. It is quite embarrassing to confess I didn’t know who the CM of our state was for many years (my father can be quite colorful when he attests to this fact). As I got older I stuck to other supplements like Bangalore Times, Metro Life or even the tabloid Bangalore Mirror. You might be scorning upon me right now, but news only depresses me or tells me things that is not of any use (that’s what I thought at the time). Every morning if you turn on the news channel all you hear are words that scream despair. The world is not really a place of despair. If they reported everything, we would see it as a beautiful place. It is because news is so depressing, that people have lost hope and the will to live. We are just existing and our routine is just based on survival mode which brings up a fight or flight instinct, and kills the sensibility to care for someone else during dire circumstances.
Once I turned to writing as a career, I took a course in Broadcast Journalism (save the exclamations). I was clear right from the beginning that I wasn’t made for journalism. I was only interested in the other fun parts of the course that involved photography, videography, advertising and more which my mentor gladly trained me in after he realized that there was no point in pushing me to learn the ropes of reporting. Oh! One thing I did learn in my first week as a student, media is not about bringing the truth to the public. It is a lucrative business, and all about what is more sensational – Only then will people stay fixated to the channel, TRPs go up, and advertisers pay up.
For example take the most popular cases like Nirbhaya or Aarushi Talwar or even Jessica Lal. Were those events the first of their kind in the country or the world? Were they really unique that only they required media attention and none other? Yes, media helped bring it to the notice of the nation that such inhumane acts occurred and created a movement that lasted for several months, and finally died out. It began as a blown out story on the front page, then dialed down to a few inches of lines on the front page, finally moving to a side column or the inner pages of the newspaper, and now it lives in the archives. At the same time, when an infant gets raped, or a father does beat his daughter to death for something ridiculous it is reported for a few seconds on TV and devoted a few inches in the never-really-read crime section.
While on one hand sensationalism is the motto, ignorance is their hidden logo. The worst storm in a century rendering a city helpless in the depths of dirty water unable to care for themselves or anyone else, and the story again plays in mainstream for a few days before being shelved in short columns within just a week for there are more important topics to focus on like statements made by celebrities, comic happenings in politics, or the epic Kajol & Shahrukh comeback in Dilwale.
So why be a cog in that great machine that does nothing to help by just choosing Cha Ching! stories? Unfortunately, it’s because we don’t have eyes and ears around the world like they do. We don’t have the resources. But then, you should also know, what media reports is not ALL that’s going on in the world. We’ll talk about this and Noam Chomsky in a future post.
For the first time, social media has done what it was intended for – bring people together near or far. The People are bringing to everyone’s notice about the situation, who’s missing, who’s been found, where they can stay, where they can find relief, and more. Even when the government is trying to throw nicks in our plans, our fellow humans are forging ahead, 5 feet deep water or more, on bikes or boats, to help our kin while the rest of the moneymakers (lawmakers & newsbreakers) sit tight and watch.
From the days of Independence to this day, it’s not the fourth pillar of democracy that has made us stronger, but the very essence of democracy.
Visit Chennai Assemble an organization that is bridging the gap between those who want to help and those in need of help during the floods.
If you are wondering, here’s the reason why Chennai’s underwater right now. Read the entire article on StoryPick.