Pratik Rimal

"The charm of mortal life, since her arrival has been joy, thoughts and longing of togetherness...a wish to be always behind her and protect her...maybe life after all gives us a second chance. And with your arrival, I now indeed believe that it sincerely does for our heavenly father cannot be heartless, as he instilled us with hearts of love, trust, faith, compassion and joy! .....

......Time tickles in joy and passes with a melancholic song. The hollow cry of penetrable sounds from the wild beasts underneath the moonlight alerts me of your hopeful
presence...and I am waiting..."

(extracted from: Stars Fall Down)



About Me

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Kathmandu, Nepal
Ever since I first started to write my first poem and article, I've loved to write. I continue to learn to write. In doing so, I let my feelings, thoughts, and emotions run wild and let people know what I intend to say, what I want to say. For me, writing is a creative expression to express what we never can say by speaking... Your readings and feedback are always important to me. Therefore, I wish that you'd write to me. My email address: pratik.rimal@hotmail.com Cell: +977-98511-42610

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Social media and its implications on Governance

Media as we know today has been revolutionized by technology in the passage of time.
The history of media started with the invention of the Gutenberg printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1450 AD. Initially, the press was used to print Bibles. In the ensuing years and to present, media and its forms have developed and continue to develop intensively as well as extensively.

The invention of Radio by Marconi followed by that of television had greatly increased information dissemination when the Internet came into the late 20th century. The birth of internet, or rather, the commercialization of the internet in the later part of the 20th century, I argue has become a landmark to revolutionize existing media along with paving future media entrepreneurships.

On personal level, we all have realized the capabilities of internet at reducing distances and bridging communication and bringing our loved ones closer to our daily lives. The internet has turned the world into a global village where everything, so disparate is still reachable in the World Wide Web. Skype, for instance has become a favorite application in our lives to reach out to our relatives and friends who are far. Or, say Viber or WhatsApp, the two famous mobile applications to send in free voice and text messages over the mobile internet. All this points out to one thing--our every day internet usage has become such a crucial part of our lives that the only time we can realize our dependency with the internet is when it is not there. 

The notion of traditional media in the 21st century has changed. Earlier, traditional media would generally comprise the print and radio and exclude television. However, now, even televisions fall into traditional media, and the ever developing internet, until now is the only new media.

Aren’t new media generally considered on the merits of its timeliness and interactivity, and doesn’t television abide by such criteria? While I agree to the former, I weigh it against the latter to push it back to traditional media. Indeed television does have interactivity in terms of votes and public polls. However, with the surge of internet and its social media platform, interactivity has come more close to be defined as seamless feedback rather than those that are filtered in print, television or radio broadcast.

Interactivity is a crucial element of the internet that makes it stand out of other traditional media. The internet is a global platform that allows opinions to come from across the world, despite the distance a reader holds. Therefore, the internet refines interactivity by its ability to incorporate global voices and global perspectives to both national and international issues.

With unlimited space, the internet is a platform where a user can find everything he needs and all the things that he doesn’t in an instance. This beautiful feature is an element that the traditional media lacks.

Moreover, its ability to incorporate all forms of media into one web based content platform also heightens its potentials and abilities. Internet incorporates all forms of media content-audio, video and text. This convergence, in the 21st century I believe, is the prerequisite for media convergence in the present age. Media convergence is a concept where all forms of global media content infuses into one common platform easing the readers to reach such contents which, otherwise, would have been inaccessible.

THE ARAB SPRING AND THE RISE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

A popular term that is gaining momentum in the virtual world of Web is the social media. Social media are networking sites which were conceptualized to connect with friends and families who are residing across the world or the country. Facebook and Twitter are famous social media platforms in the world. The power of social media was seldom realized and was generally limited to the narrow definitions of staying connected to friends and families until Arab Spring. While there were many protests like the Arab Spring before too, there had been no impact, Philip Howard, communication professor at University of Washington argues, adding that the Arab Spring movements “involved a networked public of generally younger folks” which was “structurally different” than prior movements which were headed by a charismatic leader. The “networked public” as Howard says refers to chains of people connected to social groups in social media.

In 2011, Mohamed Bouazzi, a Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself on ablaze to protest police corruption literally became the spark of the Arab Spring movement which quickly spread throughout the Middle East. (Syria’s similar movement has pushed the nation into a state of civil war with more than two million child refugees and millions of others seeking refuge.) Bouazzi achieved his personal, yet, a public death because many who had cell phones recorded his protest and was uploaded to social media, especially Facebook. Egypt’s uprising is also called Facebook revolution.  The video ignited series of suppressed anger and people took into streets. These unexpected masses took all governments and international community by surprise.

The Arab Spring helped the virtual world of internet realize its capabilities and implied an important lesson to governments and the world—the public, now, cannot be suppressed to oppressions and can strike unexpectedly. Andrew Lam, author and editor of New America Media says “(that) through the digital world, people can attain real power to speak beyond their own biological and geographical constrain.”
A 2012 study concluded that tweets and Facebook posts did a lot to spread information outside the affected countries. The burst of information could have led to “a boomerang effect that brought international pressure to bear on autocratic regimes.”

FACEBOOK

In their study published in the Journal of Communication, Zeynep Tufekci of the University of North Carolina and Christopher Wilson of the United Nations Development Program argue that “Social media in general, and Facebook in particular, provided new sources of information the regime could not easily control and were crucial in shaping how citizens have made individual decisions about participating in protests, the logistics of protest, and the likelihood of success.”

The 2012 study said the tweets and Facebook posts probably did more to spread information outside the affected countries and could have led to "a boomerang effect that brought international pressure to bear on autocratic regimes."

SOCIAL MEDIA, GOVERNANCE, AND ITS ROLES IN LOCAL BODIES

Etymologically, social media is a social networking platform which is used to connect to friends and families and social groups. The government and its citizen are networks, both influencing the other for desired change. On this parallelism, the government too can use social media. It is crucial for a democratic country to stay in touch with its people and vice-versa. Good governance is all about getting in touch with, and interacting with people from different strata and regions through all possible means and modes of communication.

Nepal is a country blessed and cursed by its geography. While the hills create as much awe as it can, overcoming it for development is a challenge. Because of geography, it is difficult to commute. People living on the Himalayan belts need to charter helicopters to reach the nearest hospitals because there are no public transports.

Travelling costs as well as wastes time. Governments’ using the social media, then, is the key to save time, money and increased interactivity in an instant. By relying on social media, governments could channel the money spent on travelling to areas of development. All that the government needs to do is post its plans or programs or decisions on social networking site, and then, it is rippled across the world in an instant causing praise, criticism, feedback or awe amongst people involved. No governments of the past had this beautiful way to connect and get reactions of its people in an instant than the internet in the present age. For this reason, it would be a folly on the government’s side to reject technology, its capabilities and to use it to its maximum potentials.

The internet based social media is a platform where global contents and perspectives can be found. By reaching out such contents, governments and local bodies could get better understanding of various ways to effectively function, know how other countries and states operate and so forth. It also can become a platform where government officials too can connect in groups, share their thoughts, get feedback and perspectives and improve themselves. For this reason, governments using social media would be as much as a place for gaining global perspectives as much as a place for retrospection.

On the macro level, governments could use social networking sites to know national feelings and opinions of the people. On the micro level, Village Development Committees and District Development Committees could use it to know local feelings. By doing so, the people would find the quickest way to reach the government and have their voices heard. Likewise, governments, both on the micro and the macro level could also reach its people in an instant. This connectivity, I believe is crucial for a few things in democracy. Firstly, the people would feel close to their state and look up to it for expected behavior. Secondly, the government would be responsible of its response that it gives to the people.

I remember a childhood joke that now has become a cliché in Nepalese politics. “Duita kaan cha…euta kaan bata sunnu, arko kaan bata udaunu” (there are two ears. Listen from one and let it go from the other). Without a doubt or qualm, I can say that every leader in Nepal tends to fall into this category. With such way, a state tends to falter. Regardless of its presence on social media or to traditional door-to-door method to get feedback from its citizens, governments need to act and justify its decisions and plans. The social media, could also be used to monitor progress and express dissatisfaction from both governments and public.

SUMMING UP


To sum up, I believe that social media can play a crucial role in reaching out to people. Relatively a new concept and still under infancy, Nepal government could yet use it and become one of the first nations to channel the social media to reach its citizens and reduce the ever increasing distance between state and its people. The Arab Spring movement showed social media possesses power to topple regimes by bringing in people together. Implicitly, social media then means that it can also strengthen governments by listening to its people and acting accordingly.