If you for quite some time have been using social media network like facebook and try to add new friends to your page, chances are that once you are able to locate your friend you would also have at least two common facebook friends and most likely the two shared friends would either be Paul Lyngdoh, kong Ampareen Lyngdoh her brother Robert Lyngdoh, the leaders of the opposition Conrad Sangma and our MP ma Vincent Pala. These are the most sought after facebook friends that our young lass and lads would like to add to their facbook friends list. Kong Ampareen has few months back declared that she had crossed the five thousand numbers of friends on her facebook friends list and request help from her cyber pals to help her deal with the issue. And tips and suggestions came raining down on her page like shower of July rain.
It is indeed good to see our techno savvy young politicians using the new available technology to reach out to the public, but except for the brother and sister duo, the remaining politician have merely been silent spectators on what is going on in the social media network world. Or maybe they have an exclusive close-knit circle of friends where they share their thoughts, information and ideas. I occasionally saw ma Vincent wishing his facebook friends on their birthdays, this is of course one kind gesture of our MP but one seldom see bah Paul or even bah Conrad writing anything on their walls to share with hundreds of their facebook friends. Surely all of them use the net on daily basis and I don’t believe a person who is hooked to facebook will not get addicted to it. A friend from the USA compared having a facebook page with keeping a big dog as a pet which one has to feed at regular intervals. So even if it may look like some of them are not actively participating in the facebook activities, I am very sure that they would skim through their pages once in a while that they are connect to the internet. But the question is why they remain mere silent spectator?
Bah Robert occasionally shared thought provoking saying or quotable quotes on his wall and the ever adventurous kong Ampareen went a step further by joining in the discussion. Few months back after the recent cabinet reshuffle when she first took charge of the department of urban development kong Ampareen shared her thoughts and even listen to the ideas her facebook friends shared with her. Let’s look it this way; the lady is perhaps the first politician in the state or maybe in the region to hold her Janata ki durbar (dorbar paidbah) in the cyber space. When I first saw kong Ampareen’s response to the queries and suggestion made on her facebook page, I thought ‘this is neat,’ imagine if our politician no longer have to spend time to meet the public but instead use the technology available on the internet to seek suggestions and share ideas with the public and the public too, share their ideas with their representative vice-versa. How convenient will that be? But I know others will have a different opinion that the idea is not feasible and not conducive because people using computer in the state consist of a small minority of the urban population and internet penetration in the state is almost negligible. But with the rapid advancement of telecom technology; I personally think the day is not far when this will all change, and change will happen very fast.
Internet and social networking; like it or not is here to stay, it has become a platform through which people share information, photo videos and what have you. In fact facebook is just the beginning, now we have another social networking media in the offing -google plus. The IBM advertisement said that in the future people will share terabytes of information in a day on the internet and computing will no longer happen in a box. Imagine a situation where people are spoilt for choice of information that is available on one’s palm in a matter of a second.
Media and the process of information dissemination will see a sea change in the near future, media as we know it today will cease to exist. Even today, before the mainstream media broadcasted about the Seal attack to kill Bin Laden in Abbotabad, the news has already been shared by twitter users. Last week when a friend asked me did you see the PCN story of a boy from Rymbai village that can play drums at a very young age? My answer was I saw it on Facebook few weeks ago. News and broadcasting firm will have to change with time because information sharing will be at the individual level, and if the news is worth sharing then people will keep on sharing it or at least like it. Citizen journalism is one such example of how public tries to create their own news and share it with the public; the different is only in this case it is still with the help of the media houses. In the near future news and entertainment will not be rate by any institute or company but by the people themselves. In the case of the young percussionist from Rymbai, the story was first shared on the facebook and then a smart journalist was able to gauge the news value of the story and share it on the mainstream media.
Internet is indeed a liberating force; it also allows a level playing field for everyone as long as one has access to internet which is not difficult these days. Social Networking is also not just about sharing information, photographs and videos, but it also about airing one’s opinion on issues dear to oneself. There are facebook page like the save the caves and river of Jaintia hills which has more than one thousand friends and it is a space where people share information on the subject and even air their opinion against illegal coal and lime stone mining that is going on in the state. It is a place where members share information and web link related to the adverse impact of mining. At the end of the day members came out of the page armed with much more information than when they were before they visit the page and hopefully will be able to take an informed decision on the issue.
However this is not to say that all is rosy in the cyber space, there are rogue element in the internet too. Crooks in the guise of a fake identity, can create problem in the net, in fact it is much easy for scoundrel to create problem in the internet where nobody can identify him and one need advance technology to tract their digital trail on the internet. Whatever the case may be internet will remain a platform through which information are shared and collect and people who can make use of the technology will certainly have an edge over those who cannot.
In the light of the above fact one cannot help but imagine the role social network will play in the ensuing 2013 election. Will it not be an advantage for kong Ampareen especially now that we know she already have five thousand plus friends on her friends’ list. And the other question is; is it ethically right for politicians to use social network for campaigning in the next election? If it is, then it will be the cheapest and the most convenient mode of campaign available. In that case social network media will also replace the election campaign rally and election campaign (election dorbar) will partly happen on the internet. Perhaps it is time for the various parties to at least start party’s own facbook page to woo young voters to the party.