Tweeting, what’s that? Texting? Not allowed. Orkut? Banned. This is the scene in undergrad Journalism schools in Bangalore where students are more media savvy than their teachers. A few days ago I was at a Journalism Students Forum in one of the undergraduate colleges in Bangalore. The topic under discussion was “The Role of Media in Social Change.”
Media experts went on a historic tirade about the role of print media in India’s freedom struggle, and about Television serving packaged news. But they seemed completely clueless on the impact of social media. Had they heard of Obama winning the elections using social media? If USA is too far away from their mind, had they heard of the pink chaddi campaign back home that left the communal rascals shamefaced and democracy had won, thanks to New Media.
It was as if they were living in the cocooned web of the past, the 1980s and not in 2010. They seemed afraid of the social impact of the mobile, the Internet and even the Reality shows on television. They wholeheartedly admitted they were media illiterate. I was baffled, what they were doing as teachers, and professors handling research papers, developing curriculum (when was the last time they had upgraded it? The syllabus hadn’t changed since I had studied in the eighties, except perhaps for the lone RTI act included in a hurry to convince themselves they had upgraded it.
They had not heard of Twitter, facebook or Orkut, as somebody had banned their use in the college. And there they were, talking about our “banning culture.” Ban the movie, ban the book, yeah, ban everything without even understanding what it is, one professor was waxing eloquently.
But what they don’t realize is that students don’t always learn everything in the classrooms. A lot of learning actually takes place in the privacy of cyber cafes lurking in the basements of the city. And teachers need to look forward and not rest in the knowledge of the yesterdays quoting the same old anecdotes, the same old jokes, year after year, even generations after, as in some cases.
Yeah, Hum log, Mungerilal, Yeh Joh hai Jindagi and Karamchand were great serials of our time, but it’s time to move on else we will end up looking like the black and white songs of Chitrahaar shown during the good old days of Doordarshan before the advent of Star TV. Old songs might be great, but you need to remix them if you want the next-gen to hum along.