Everything is fair in love and v-log

Scruples and commerce rarely go together

Two unfortunate things have coincided in the modern world. One: strangers (media personalities and admen) never had this much power over the thought of the masses as they have now. And two: the masses were probably never nearly this dumb. Perhaps the first owes a lot to the second.

The result is a whole generation that believes that ‘beauty’ soap makes the skin glow, that shampoos are essential for healthy hair, that want of a gym membership is the last hurdle standing in the way of fitness, that trickle down economy is a boon for the poor, to list only some of the numerous variants of nonsense believed on a large scale. There is no denying its many positives, but the internet has certainly played its part in making matters worse in this regard.

Ubiquitous internet access, and a constant supply of bored users with nothing better to do make for great business potential, which was exploited to the fullest, and around the globe, by corporations and entrepreneurs alike. The party was soon joined by influencers, motivators, v-loggers, analysts and scholars of every ilk; all hell-bent on helping, informing and educating the masses. Today, these practitioners probably number in hundreds of thousands worldwide.

The good thing about influencing, motivating, informing and educating is that you do not need a product or a service. All you require is some insight into human psychology, enough intelligence to identify a certain audience and to know how to tell it what it wants to hear, and the stamina to keep at it every day.

Today you have v-logs on politics, foreign affairs, sports, cooking, history, fortune telling – you name it. With few exceptions, it is a no-holds-barred, all-out war for views. No trick is considered too low to be beneath the dignity of the presenter. Initially there used to be some concern about the accuracy of information given and predictions made. But the v-loggers soon found out to their delight that it does not matter at all, for their audience does not mind one way or the other. All it craves is new content every day. It does not care how often their predictions may have failed in the past, or how many times they were less than truthful in their reports. It could all be a fabrication, or make no sense whatsoever, but as long as the content conforms to their desires they can be trusted to tune in daily.

One can see this in the development of the thumbnails. In the early days of v-logs, the content creators made it a point to put a question mark on something that they knew was not true. Now they have grown much more reckless, for more and more of them are dispensing with the question mark. Thumbnails, which till relatively recently used to have at least something to do with the content, are increasingly devoid of any connection whatever with what is in the video. In way too many cases, they are nothing more than click baits now.

As for the v-logs themselves, barring rare exceptions the more popular the v-logger, the more oblivious he is to any concern for consistency or even to a semblance of responsibility for his last v-log. Would a public that had any genuine avocations (leave alone meaningful vocations) patronize such an unscrupulous lot?

Our maulvis are famous for being late to any party; but boy, do they make up for it later! Like the loudspeaker and the television in the past, they have taken a fancy to internet that is in spectacular contrast to their earlier objections to photographs and images. The result is that where their audience was limited on account of size of the mosque or the madrassa, their reach is now potentially worldwide. On their v-logs, they are merrily engaged in converting the already-converted, telling them how blessed they are to be guided, and how grossly misguided are those who do not agree with them. There is no end to the list of things men want to hear over and over again.

These ‘Islamic’ v-loggers started with the usual controverses that are certain to attract viewers from certain quarters of society, but it was not long before some of them realized that a major demographic remained neglected, and which could so profitably be tapped into. That demographic was that of married women. Like psychologists and relationship experts before them, they started reminding married women about their rights (as if any of them had ever forgotten them): How their ungrateful husbands were typically less than appreciative of their efforts. How the latter were supposed to every now and then buy them jewellery, etc. Predictably, this has done wonders for their viewership. Many ladies have grown quite fond of consuming such content, to the utter satisfaction (not to mention the income) of the v-loggers. No wonder they rarely think of bringing up the ladies’ duties.

One such influencer (a star of sorts on the social media), at an unusually inspired moment, went so far as to say that husbands should share their phone and social media passwords with their wives, if they truly love them. He presented his own example: how his wife was free to inspect his phone any time she liked.

One wonders whether these women realize how dangerous it could be if their husbands started following, not only the verbal teachings but, the practical examples set by these motivators. For most of them have two, if not more, wives. I have a feeling they would be none too pleased if their husbands started regularly buying them a jewellery item or two (as per the teachings) but got it in their heads to also emulate the teacher by opting for polygyny.

Hasan Aftab Saeed
Hasan Aftab Saeed
The author is a connoisseur of music, literature, and food (but not drinks). He can be reached at www.facebook.com/hasanaftabsaeed

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