Media and its Adverse Effects

The glitter and brightness of the dynamics of society has hidden darkness, that today’s generation is not aware of.

A few days ago, while going through my old journals and diaries, I came across a poem written by Javed Akhtar. I have always liked this poem of his and still do. It highlights a very significant concept of life in an extremely beautiful manner. The title of the poem is “Kall aur Aaaj”, translated as “yesterday and today”. In essence, the poem highlights the relationships and conflicts of Heart and Mind or Heart verses Mind. It also conveys us the shift of humanity from “Heart centered” towards Mind or Brain; and its effects on social fabric of society. The first and the last couplets of the poem in “Urdu” are translated as:

How wonderful was the life of people of yester years, who could walk in any direction of life without any fears of harm (from people or society). And it goes on to the last couplet as; Today, the glitter and brightness of the dynamics of society has hidden darkness that today’s generation is not aware of.

Talking about the importance of hand written diaries and journals; I think the young generation of today is unable to completely comprehend what significance hand-written journals and diaries had in our times and how lovingly, we used to pen down all the pieces of poetry and prose that were close to our heart. Today, the vast amount of information available on internet, has apparently, made this process of collecting and preserving data easier but has depleted it of the beautiful spirit that was attached to it. While mentioning about the significance that a piece of paper achieves when it contains a note written from the hand of a person you love, let me share something. During the early years of my job, I was employed in different cities away from home. My mother (May God gives her a place in the highest of Heavens, Ameen) used to say to me, “I know you are very busy and do not have time. But just post me a blank piece of paper “your letter”, with nothing written on it. I will keep it safe and be pleased that I have my son’s letter.” Today’s generation is not able to understand the depth and value attached to such feeling. Mobile phones have entirely mitigated the distances but alongside, have also eliminated the deep love that connected those distances. It is impossible to knead in that spiritual endearment in messages sent through social media, that was there in the letters written by the very hands of your loved ones.

Where it has provided ease and comfort, electronic media has snatched away the subtle beauties of our life from us. People of my era, who have seen the world of yesterday and are also completely aware of today’s world of innumerable TV channels, internet and electronic media and their pros and cons, can very well understand how precious it was that we lost in order to gain what we have today. But alas, a state of helplessness prevails and we have to go through it.

Media has our lives firmly clenched. To be honest, this situation is haunting the lives of sensitive people. I am a member of a couple of WhatsApp groups. Whenever (and its quite often ), people debate over world politics and similar topics, I and other like-minded people, feel uncomfortable and anxious, resulting in some of them leaving the group. They are, then, called back in by friends; and for the sake of friends, they do join again and once again become a victim of such debates. This whole exercise, I believe, has made us very negatively obstinate. Things that mattered a lot before, do not matter as much now, we are not as sensitive as we used to be. We are helplessly waiting as to where this apathy and indifference take us.

Take some time out and consciously go through the channels that your television provides and observe. Observe and you will feel that almost all the content being shown on TV tends to be very superficial and almost negative. Although, there is some content that relates to literary nature, pertains to character building and contains positivity, but it is not practically related to our day to day lives. There are very few news on routine basis that reflect the positivity and humanity of people. Gradually, and unconsciously Media has brought about so many social and cultural changes in our lives and in our minds, and in such a process that we could not even feel it happening. Such sensitive topics telecast on television that were not suitable for the whole family to sit and watch together, are now being debated upon by immediate blood relations; father and daughter for an example. One is seriously confused as to whether we actually moving forwards or backwards in human development; it is hard to comprehend. We, as a human race, the vicegerent on earth, are actually degrading our levels of faith, and the worst part is that we do not even feel it. That sense of responsibility that is imposed upon us by the Creator, we have forgotten it. Now I almost feel that man was indeed naive that he became responsible for being God’s messenger and the best of creations on Earth. Alas, only if he knew the problems he would have to face in this world.

Today, we are surrounded by a large number of diverse problems. Difficulties and issues related to a person’s individual life, family life, social and community problems to name a few. Then, being believers (I being Muslims), the dreams of hell and heavens and the demands of righteousness to be met. And a lot more materialistic distractions that have our lives in their grip. The reference of the poem by Javed Akhtar given above truly reflects the situations we face today.

All these complications, problems and anxieties have blended into our everyday lives so deeply that it is almost impossible to run away from them. If you observe, one of the main causes of these disturbances in our lives is the overflow of superficial information of this temporary, superficial world. Most of the information we receive on everyday basis is neither a complete lie nor a solid truth, this incomplete information tends to increase depression in our lives. This race among different information providing entities of media and internet to be ahead of others has left man completely befuddled and confused. Jaun Aelia, a famous poet of Urdu says;

ہے یہ بازار جھوٹ کا بازار ۔ پھِر یہی جِنس کیوں نہ تولیں ہم

کر کے اِک دوسرے سے عہدِ وفا ۔ آؤ کُچھ دیر جھوٹ بولیں ہم

Lies are the commodities of this world’s market. Let us also trade in this. Let us, by false promises of love in life be deceitful to each other.

Regular exhibition of pictures of the brutalities being carried out and tolerated throughout the world, people running insanely, not to help, but to capture the moments of helplessness and pain of others by their mobile phones, and then sharing those on social media with out hesitation or shame, rather even triumphantly has become a permanent and indefinite part of our lives. Whenever we share a video on WhatsApp, that portrays a person’s humiliation and insults, we do not stop to think that that person also has a family and a social circle, how will they feel when they see their loved one being mocked at. Not even that, we do not even realize what the person receiving the post would think about our mental level of understanding.

In spite of all the dissatisfaction, anxiety and to some extent, character degradation mentioned above, we do not even have time to give some direction to our broken understanding. Schools, colleges and universities do arrange seminars and workshops to help students understand these concepts but it has been seen that very little number of people are interested to join. I, specifically, urge the young generation of today to please give your life a direction, orient it in such a way that success of both the worlds is targeted. Because we know very well that without spiritual aspects included, the success of this world is completely pointless, neither it has a purpose, nor it has permanency.

Dr Akhtar Nawaz Malik