Each one of us has the warrior soul entrapped within and thanks to the modern age marvel of the digital landscape, a new phenomenon has now become possible where each one of us is able to participate, voice out and express ourselves many a times in a civil way and yet at other times by punching under the lines and yet other times, delivering a debilitating blow to a chosen opponent for the day! Join me here as we explore this space and try to understand why we have ended up reaching this far as a global society and what is that you and I can do to stall the un-serving overtures around this! So here we go!
As the digital age ushered in, it was seen as a force multiplier for humanity to share all that signifies progress, relevance and serves the greater good! Today after three decades, much of our contemporary world is all digitized! Whether we are seeking research papers, rare books, manuscripts, information nuggets or access an encyclopedia, all of this which was primitively a laborious task unto itself has become as easy as a few clicks! If this has been the boon of the digital age, this same power to be omnipresent everywhere and anywhere is perhaps its greatest vulnerability! You see, like with everything else, what can be used for you can always be used against you! The digital world is no different, if the digital landscape can empower you and take you to new heights even before you realize it, the same can disempower and shred you in no time! But the important question is, if the digital landscape indeed is so influential and fluid, why has it been allowed to behold a veto and power to alter and influence societal narratives like nothing else before?
Well, partly the answer resides in the mechanism of how this new age digital disorder crept into our lives. The human mind relishes to get more done with minimal effort for the freed time was originally utilized for serious and intriguing enquiry of what was around on the world; today however, this freed up time is often wasted through the digital landscape for pursuing meaningless time wasting endeavors! Sure enough not everything or everyone associated with the digital world is wasting their time, but the problem is that, the proportion of those meaningful engagements with the digital world is a very limited and low percentage compared to the majority who keep loitering around it and this is how the digital landscape ends up being a wonderful wasteland, potent for creating and striking chaos by facilitating spread of directed narratives, half-truths and yet at few times full lies! Add to this the last 12 months, wherein more and more people have been compelled to be online for one or the other reason, meaningless engagements, interactions and discussions have only added to the already cluttered space and in this digital noise throw up a few spices to stir up political ideologies, thoughts that may impact societies, narratives directed against nations, you make this meaningless wasteland of the digital landscape a dangerous territory- an open zone to facilitate the war of words, hashtags and in those rare occasions end up altering the fabric and narratives of societies permanently!
As battles break out over the digital landscape, as long as they are the proverbial “tongue-in-cheek”, witty, intelligent narratives that win hearts and minds over brands vying for consumers, everything is great; the moment however the landscape begins to add a spin and entertain or get into creating, altering or driving narratives on socio-political matters, things begin to get awkward and at times notoriously dangerous! Given the reach of the digital landscape through all sorts of connected devices and toys available in the market place, it has now become perhaps ended up being an instrument of state policy in case of some nations when they want to begin creating directed narratives on ongoing issues across any society anywhere in the world! Sure enough, being globally connected this could be a great asset, while discussing issues that are of existential in nature and which call for collaborative effort of nations across the world, but when nations begin to form groups and start targeted narratives against another one or another groups is when the battle commences in the real sense of it!
Once the digital landscape has been hijacked by either states or state sponsored actors, it is perhaps a matter of hours and days before manageable problems begin to end up being full blown crisis and that too with an added layer of ambiguity and opaqueness and with an ever increasing blurring of the lines that separate facts from fiction! The problem ironically is really not about how people intend to use or abuse the digital landscape, but the problem is really about how it is perceived and what is consumed, the way it is consumed. When segments of societies have differential level of understanding and pre-disposed ideological positions to keep, even what is authentic begins to look cooked up and what is fiction tends to achieve larger than life status! More often then not as the digital landscape is all about connectedness of a society, the way it tends to shift almost always also gives an indication to the direction that a society is likely to take in the times ahead- whether it will progress or regress and by how much!
Perhaps the only meaningful approach that you and I can take as individuals and urge fellow like minded individuals to replicate is about- applying a discerning mind to all that comes our way over the digital landscape, before we rush in to share, like or forward what has come to our notice! As long as the consumers of the digital landscape exercise intellectual restraint through validation, rationality and wisdom, even the most directed efforts to build a narrative to suit someone’s designs will be almost always defeated, all it takes is a discerning mind with an ability to decipher, when things look too bad then actually are or when things seem to be too good then they really are! As long as this practise is followed rest assured a lot of meaningless issues that threaten to come your way will be stalled in their very nascent stages!
As long as the digital space is utilized for the less harmful and relatively harmless banter of our daily consumption centric life issues of food, water and shelter and a calibrate whining, it all is fine, but as the stakes go higher and further to touch complex issues with layers of opaqueness and ambiguity, it is always worthwhile to practise the pause and ponder whether it is really relevant, valid and necessary before you hit those buttons to get connected into a raging issue! I am not suggesting to avoid participation or voicing of your views, thats fundamental, we must all do so, but the method, approach and meaningfulness must be adhered to and only after a thorough validation and evaluation and ascertainment of facts and credible data has been done, should you ever think of stepping into unknown spaces of the digital landscape which is often riddled with intellectual and ideological minefields, waiting to entrap the unsuspecting entrant!
The digital battlegrounds are an extended theatre of conflict, confrontation and international tug-of-war between nations and power groups who are all out there to drive specific narratives and ideologies that suit their audiences! There is nothing right or wrong about this, this is what it is and will ever be! What is important to understand is the fact that, as Individuals we must ensure that we never end up unwittingly contributing to any of that space unless we have ascertained the facts and stayed away from seducing fiction. The digital world is the new theatre of war- war for supremacy of ideas, thoughts, ideologies and creating and sustaining fluid turbulence which can be amplified or lowered by a few digital instruments- with or without the complicit assistance of the providers of the interface!
I leave you with these thoughts for now, urging you to reflect upon a singular fact, that being, “How empowering you have been and can continue to be over the digital landscape to ensure that you can do your bit when you come across something that doesn’t seem right through your discerning mind!” You never know, you may actually end up saving the world! The world is not wrapped in the search engine and neither is it what comes up on your search bar or your screens! It is much bigger and beyond all of what emerges on the digital arena and so is it with people- they are never what they seem on the digital space and are far more real and authentic when you engage with them in-person, in flesh and blood and walk a few steps along them to know the humanistic connect that binds all of us together on this third rock from the Sun!
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another one, until then stay wise and stay safe!