2020 was a year of sad words. Social distancing, quarantine, lockdown; every word that is an anathema to the human race became a word to be remembered religiously. COVID-19, to say very subtly, changed the course of this world.
The whole world saw unprecedented witch-hunting, shameless sexism, baffling ignorance and maddening bullying restlessly on their “idiot” boxes. The TV media channels telecasted what can be called the new “soap operas”.
The word debate got a new definition. The logic of a person’s argument came to be measured by their loudness and obscenity. If you were to ask me to describe “prime-time debates” today, I would unequivocally call them a place of loud hand gestures and weak arguments.
Words like logic and empathy became archaic and uncool. Actors masquerading as news anchors left no stone unturned to spread hate. One would expect panellists to act better, but India learned that not everything we see on the television is worth watching. TRP and money replaced integrity and truthfulness. The leaked chats between the journalist and the CEO revealed exactly what ‘the nation wanted to know.
But is it just me, or do some of you too feel that the past year was a tight slap on the faces of us “respectable” citizens? It was as if prime-time news anchors, every day, danced on screens to show us how little power we actually had. They taunted us with the fact that information brings power.
Our ignorance came back to bite us on our posterior. We sat in our homes, fighting lethargy and, well, death, and the media fed us with everything they wanted to feed. Are we in a cul-de-sac? I hope not.
The media is called the fourth pillar of democracy. If any pillar becomes shaky, who has the responsibility to fix it? You know the answer. We need to put our foot down. Hate-mongering and verbal diarrhoea in the name of media need to go.
A small step in the right direction would be to support knowledge, curiosity and effort. If someone among us tries to rise the ladder, the least we can do is cheer for them. Initiatives that dare to bring the truth out, however small, need to be nurtured. Nurtured with love and support.
A little “well done” note can push a person to such an extent that they may even agree to fight the evils of bigotry and irrationality inside them. Don’t believe me? Try that now. We now, more than ever, ought to support a medium that encourages healthy discussions and facilitates dissent instead of the one that imposes its opinions upon us.
Citizen-funded, unhyphenated media must become the media of tomorrow. And for that to happen, we need to support it today.
Let this summer bring along with it not only an end to the irritating virus but an end to this upgraded version of circus too. Summer of ’69 was good, but what if the Summer of ’21 is better? (Sorry, Bryan Adams!)