Not everyone is a surfer or a diver from the word ‘Go’. Some people first stare at the sea long enough, try to assess the magnitude and frequency of the waves, then cautiously approach the sea from the shore, dip their toes to feel the temperature of the water, maybe change their minds a few times over about going into the sea, then reluctantly walk up to the calf’s length and rush back to the shore. It is only once they are familiar with the water and confident that they can take it; do they swim into it. At some point, this graduates into surfing or diving for a few people. However, many choose to just dabble in the sea water. For those, it is this and no further. What can be the reasons for such varying behaviors? If we assume that all the people love swimming and are good swimmers, still, the scenario as mentioned above won’t change much. At the onset, for any behavior, there can be two major triggers – extent of willingness and extent of information to boost willingness. When one has enough willingness and information, even a non-swimmer can be an ace surfer or diver. The analogy of water is apt for the topic in discussion – gender movement. The topic is as wide as the sea and has an oceanic depth with regards to its global and Indian history. Not to mention, like a sea’s wave, gender movements has had its ebbs, soars, tides and tsunamis. One more crucial point to note is that people more or less have the same approach that they have to sea when towards associating with a larger cause. It takes one person to get the ball rolling but before it makes a successful impact on the social fabric; it needs to survive the initial inertia, repetitive dullness in momentum and dealing with abundant yet scattered information which sometimes fails to make its point across. Not to mention, every movement faces the danger of losing to a fatal enemy – collective amnesia. People forget larger social causes in their tryst with their everyday life enemy.
Social media steps in as a defense to deal with collective amnesia, inertia and dullness in momentum. It also comes to aid for those who cannot physically and exclusively dedicate themselves to a larger cause. The most important Unique Selling Point (USP) about harnessing the power of social media for a social cause is that it enables people to contribute to the cause by deriving from their personal experiences and lives. It is always one step at a time, one piece of information at one point to chew upon, one small point to add to the hashtag, one voice rising to meet the musical crescendo of the masses. Another USP is the spontaneity and the speed with which it spreads and snowballs. The only weakness to this USP is what starts like a fire, spreads like one, consumes like one and snuffs itself out as one. It therefore runs into the danger of not being taken seriously because fire has the power but nor the flair of patience and perseverance and neither a trajectory like water. Water, even in its feisty form, always leaves a lasting impact and creates a path where none existed before. Having said that, what fire is to light, social media is to social causes and in this respect – the gender movement.
World over, the bones of contention over gender perceptions and deadlocks are different. What bothers the Orient is not the same as the Occident and vice-versa. Social media localizes and contextualizes the movement while drawing upon the overarching principles of global gender movement which are culled out from collective fundamental human rights and dignity of individual human life. The combination of collective and individual rights and dignity is in turn derived from spiritual, social and cultural fabrics that unites people across races around the world. This point brings us to the third USP of social media being the facsimile of globalization which reaches every individual. Not to mention the importance of social media being recipient controlled. One does not have to be present at a particular venue on a particular time and align themselves to the topical content of the movement. People decide when they want to tune in, what they want to say and how much would they want to contribute while still having the power to tune out in instances of violent personal attacks. This is a protective shield in a country like ours where freedom of expression is still an aspiration
Priyanka Londhe has 7 years of industry experience, with emphasis on social sector research and communications.
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