Can you believe it’s already nearing the end of April? That’s 4 months, equivalent to one-quarter of the ‘New Year’ gone. Here we are, done with our ambitious resolutions and shaken with a whirlwind of bewildering, shocking and horrifying events. Time truly flies.
That may or may not have been as smooth as a segue as I was going for, but now that we’ve got the awkward introduction out of our way, we can move on to the good part: Reflections’ April 2018 Issue on Time! While it may not seem so at first thought, time is a truly fascinating subject that has captivated human attention, sparked imagination and fantasies, and eluded clear understanding since aeons. In this issue, the talented students whose content is featured take up a diverse range of topics related to time. You could read a story called ‘Close Your Eyes and Concentrate’, joining two unique characters in fixing the timeline of World War 2; read poems like ‘Time’, ‘The Stages of Grief’, etc; read questionings of Time Travel, or understand how Indians have historically viewed and measured time. A truly eclectic mix of well-written content by our contributors!
Besides the writing, this time we put more focus on the visuals. You might have noticed the slight layout change: this time, the work of our talented artists and photographers is highlighted right at the top of the first page through a gallery. This allows you to appreciate the visual artwork individually. The comic strip too is featured in a similar manner on the following page. We hope you like the new format!
Further, I’d like to take a moment here to talk about a very important matter, especially in the context of recent happenings. Cambridge Analytica’s massive breach of user privacy, through the user data from FaceBook, came as a terrible shock to the world. The one useful consequence of this has been increased public attention to matters of privacy on their social media accounts as well as a larger, more fundamental concern–“Can we trust the media we’re seeing?” How do we know that the ‘news’ we’re viewing isn’t ‘fake’? Are these facts real or ‘alternative’? In general, how is the media we’re continuously absorbing like a porous sponge impacting us? How is it shaping our thoughts, beliefs, ideologies and simply who we are as people? How much does it know about us, how much can it predict about our behaviour, and how much can it mould us into the person it needs us to be?
Most of us spend upwards of three hours per day consuming media in some form or the other ranging from WhatsApp (or any other instant messaging service) to Instagram to a news channel on TV. While technically every medium of communication is ‘media’– even a conversation between two individuals– the most impactful and manipulative kind is the Mass Media reaching hordes of people simultaneously. Given its immense influence, we must be careful about the amount of control over us that we’re offering and how we choose to process, engage, and interact with what we’re taking in. Passive one-sided consumption, unquestioning belief in the veracity of what we’re seeing, and trapping ourselves in an echo chamber of voices that agree with ours are perhaps the biggest mistakes we can make. The one truth that we can and should believe in, is this: every piece of media– an advertisement, a news channel, a video game, an article on the internet, even this online magazine you’re reading–is vying for your attention, and your attention is increasingly growing narrow and fickle.
My request to you is simple. (Well, multiple requests but they’re still simple, I promise.)
Do not tell the internet more than it needs to know. Do not believe everything it has to say. Try not to get misled by ads, inflammatory material and clickbait content. Do not mislead others by sharing possibly false or half-baked stories. One-sided communication can be quite detrimental, so respond whenever you have something constructive or positive to add. Do not be hateful.
In three short words: Develop Media Literacy.
What is media literacy? Here, I’m putting a link to a useful video that explains it in a lucid way. I’d recommend you watch the rest of the videos in the series as well.
Now, Reflections too is an online media website made by and meant for a teenaged audience, and we have a responsibility towards making this a truly open platform for you. Instead of merely bringing this topic up, we want to do more. Our first goal is to make the magazine reach a wider audience of both contributors and readers, making it more democratic and diversified. To this end, it is encouraging to see participation by students of a variety of schools in the current issue, the names of which are specifically mentioned at the end of every piece. Secondly, we urge you to be an active consumer. When you read an article, story, poem, or any other piece in this magazine, think about what you read. Respond to it with your own perspective in the comments section. Leave a compliment to appreciate or encourage the author/artist. Ask a question or disagree. It is upto you.
While security and privacy concerns are key problems larger than us, we can start making a difference by being a communicative, reciprocative and supportive medium. For this, we need your co-operation. To encourage you, we’ve decided to give the most thoughtful comment(s) a special surprise! All you need to do is, well, respond.
Until next time,