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What began as a personal interaction platform of sorts
has taken on an extremely complex form, more elaborate than Chinese whispers. I call it a ‘FILTY’ world. So what exactly is
this world? It’s just a word I coined
using the first letters of #Facebook, #Instagram, #LinkedIn, #Twitter and #YouTube.
The only saving grace in this high speed digital world controlled by man-tweaked
algorithms are, to some extent, your email accounts whether it is Gmail or
Yahoo or simply your official company email id and of course your own website.
FILTTY TO FILTY
Till recently it was a ‘#FILTTY’ world, but thanks to the
government of India banning TikTok, the Chinese app, it’s now come down to a ‘#FILTY’
world. On the face of it, the social media platforms came into being as a
simple interaction tool, more on a personal level. But over a period of time,
each of these platforms have transformed into multi-billion dollar entities
with considerable clout and relevance. It’s fun no doubt. You can post anything
you like, watch anything you like, read anything you like, entertain yourself as
much as you like, and in the bargain, either waste an eternity or gain
I cannot comment on journalists covering other beats,
but can definitely vouch for auto journalists. The professional chores of the
latter have increased manifold. That led to a dilution of professional output
and a mind boggling scramble to clock huge “numbers”. Numbers pertain to the
number of views your posts / comments / videos have, the number of subscribers
you have, the number of likes you have, etc.
Thus when #autojournalists as well as journalists
covering other subjects started their pursuit for survival and supremacy in
this digital world, they knew they had to get these huge numbers. The
unfortunate part was that there was no level playing field and no standard to
be maintained. All you needed were lots of time, ingenuity and deep pockets.
FOR PROFESSIONALS AND CLOWNS ALIKE
Let me give you an example. Being an auto journalist, whether
I like it or not, I have to tweet, I have to upload videos on YouTube, I have
to be active on Instagram, I have to also be addicted to Facebook, besides
writing something or the other on LinkedIn (this platform is meant for
professionals from varied backgrounds, but it is also slowly losing its sheen).
And as a journalist I have to ensure that I do things sensibly and
But unfortunately this space is open to all, from
professionals to clowns. The participation on these platforms involves a lot of
hard work and time.
But then again, popularity on these platforms is not
all about hard work alone or even polished performance. It can also be about
no-holds-barred buffoonery. You can buy your fame here. Your views, your
followers, your likes, etc can be bought with money. While individual
journalists slog their hearts out to stay relevant in their profession by being
an active participant on the social media platforms, and also by competing with
all kinds of dubious characters, many of them just cannot match the clout of
the rich. It could be CEOs of big companies, the companies themselves or rich
kids who pour in insane amounts of money to stay ahead on these platforms. People sometimes endanger their lives trying to stay ahead of competition by doing dangerous stunts and acts. Many a times absolute crass churned out by some, become "viral" in no time.
CHECKS AND BALANCES MATTER
I have often remarked to my friends that it’s only a
matter of time when “auto journalism” will lose its relevance. I feel we have
already reached the stage. Like parrots we say everything they (auto companies) want us to say.
No one wants to probe into anything. No one wants to tell the real facts.
For example, the other day LML Emotion of Yogesh
Bhatia unveiled three electric two wheelers. Every journalist went overboard
praising his efforts and his future plans. Motown
India was the only media outlet in the country that probed into it and
found out that the concept vehicles were made by a company by the name of Desmania
Design based out of Gurugram. The Bhatia controlled LML Emotion has not yet
zeroed down on any manufacturing plant for LML electric scooters. He had
earlier launched electric two wheelers under the brand name #Detel. #MotownIndia had reviewed their first
product, #DetelEasy. It was a product that had far too many shortcomings. They
stopped making that (presumably it was a product assembled made from Chinese
AUTO JOURNALISM AND ITS RELEVANCE
With OEMs (vehicle manufacturers) and CEOs of leading
auto companies having a major presence on the various social media platforms,
they really don’t need journalists to talk about their products. With their
mega money power and a separate social media team at their disposal, they have followers and subscribers running into millions. And
every time they put up a picture or video, they can “boost” it to dizzy numbers,
all with the help of money. But I am sure these companies will continue to
humour auto journalists and keep them by their side. Like I mentioned in my earlier
column, they need their “cheer girls” and their “cheer leaders”. And if these
cheer girls are very popular, they can also be asked to dole out an award, like a “car
of the year” or a “bike of the year” or just a pretty “company of the year”. Am I right?
In the meantime, the only space that I thought I had
saved for my personal communications was “WhatsApp”. But this too is now bombarded
on a daily basis with press releases and pictures from various automotive
companies and their public relations firms. Everybody is desperate in today’s world;
it’s just not me alone!
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