Isn’t it interesting that when you get a paper cut on your finger, you seldom realize it until you pick up a morsel of spicy food and the cut begins to burn? But by then it is too late. All you can do is suck your finger and scream. And you don’t get to enjoy your food, either.
There is a reason why I have taken this particular example at the beginning of this article. Just as you don’t realize when the paper is slicing through your skin, something else is slicing through your subconscious mind in a slow ongoing process, on a very large scale, something that no-one is even remotely aware of.
How many times have you picked up a copy of the newspaper and pondered its content deeper than just running your eyes over the headlines? How often have you given a thought to the purpose of its existence? Is there a purpose, other than to bring current events and information to the public?
Newspapers have been in existence ever since the common man began to exercise freedom of thought and expression. The modern newspaper is the most widely circulated and the most commonly read form of printed matter. But how far is that freedom of thought and expression being carried out today? And is it actually the thought and expression of the common man that is being reflected in the papers?
The truth is that apart from reports of daily events, there is nothing of significance in the papers. I say this because the newspaper does not anymore reflect the beat of the society into whose homes it is delivered everyday. Compare the situation of your household to that of the household shown in the newspaper. Compare your ideals to those portrayed in the Deccan Chronicle or the Times of India. Compare your dressing, and that of the people around you to the clothes which you see being modeled in the papers. Compare your lifestyle, your opinions, your choices, your future plans, your favorite hang-out spots, your regular shopping destinations, your earning and expenditure, what you feed your pets…. Compare anything of yours with what is outlined in the newspapers. Chances are, none of the things you do or say or enjoy make up even a small percentage of the papers which are supposed to represent your city and its people. Even the advertisements don’t look like they are tailor-made for you.
Little do we realize what great impression the pictures and headlines in the paper have on our subconscious minds. Little does anyone know how much power the papers hold over our minds, pulling strings and feeding us information which deconstructs our culture. Believe it or not, what you read in the paper, what you feel is written from a subjective point of view, actually affects your psyche into believing that what it says that you want or say or do…. That is what you actually end up wanting and saying and doing. For instance, when the newspaper says that more women are into the nightclub scene and are not afraid to mingle with men and consume alcohol, it is not entirely true at the time it is printed, but in a few months becomes a reality. The movie reviews depict packed theatres when no-one actually shows up for a certain show, and by the next week, tickets to that particular movie are sold out. It is repeatedly drilled into our brains that Hyderabadis are easy-going and laid-back, and that is what we become, taking the printed statement as a form of approval. The newspapers describe an increase in the rate of suicides by over-pressurized students, and soon enough, there is. Instead of reporting the present events, the newspapers continue to predict the future, a future which has been crafted by the press itself. This is not what is actually happening, but what the papers are blatantly promoting.
It’s bad enough that Hyderabad lacks proper regional channels which cater to all of its audience. Most of the Hyderabadi community relies on what is printed in the newspapers as its sole form of local media. It is a disappointing thought that the newspapers are using this fact to their advantage to fashion a completely superficial society just by printing that which is not but that which can be. Slowly but surely, the minds of the Hyderabadis are being molded at the whim of the daily Chronicles and Times, which have now become a extensive form of advertisement to advocate the growth of Hyderabad into that which it is not.
The truth remains that Hyderabad cannot become a Bangalore or a Mumbai just by imitating the social life of the Bangalorians or Mubaiites. The movement that is taking place in the media-influenced Hyderabad is far from what can be described as a coming-of-age but rather as a loss of identity. Hyderabad as a city of age 400+ has already developed into a culture that is unique to itself. It is not a child that is learning to walk. It is a mature adult civilization that existed long before the pop culture which is being publicized today. In no way can Hyderabad be termed as waking up to the new global culture, because it is a noted fact that Hyderabad held trade relations with Arabia and other countries centuries ago. Hyderabad has a full-grown, established society, which, like any other society, need not be overshadowed by another or fashioned by the fad of the media.
We need to create awareness and an awakening to expose the ulterior motives of the newspapers, and make ourselves and our fellow citizens conscious of the damage that could be caused by them. We must refuse to be led like cattle into a meaningless transformation which we do not even understand or relate to. This is what I meant at the beginning of the article about noticing a paper-cut after the harm is done. Let it not be too late.