Charles E. Redfield defined ‘communication as a broad field of human interchange of facts and opinions and not the technologies of telephone, radio and the like.’ Little did he realise that to enhance this interchange and to enlarge the reach one is solely dependent on technology. Henceforth, the entire concept of mass communication came into being. Information technology has advanced so much in the recent years that it is now possible for the people, while sitting in the drawing rooms, to witness the events taking place in any part of the globe or even in the space. National boundaries hold no barrier.
‘Mass’ refers to the common man in large numbers who are now endowed with immense light to diminish ignorance. The source of light is the modern age technology agents that have imbibed in our day-to-day schedules just like inborn religion and culture. Internet is an addiction; television is the chewing gum for eyes; economy is reconstructing into e-commerce, and telecommunication is no longer a technical breakthrough.
Telecommunication as the Oxford reads, is a mode of communication over a distance, esp. by cable, telegraph, telephone, or broadcasting; or the branch of technology that deals with such communication(s). Hence, in general all that we communicate through a technology is telecommunication. It has varied aspects, each comprising of its own pros and cons. So rather than generalizing the massive concept, one should rather get to the in depth of each of these part and parcels of the term.
Print media proved its power long back when newspaper gave the hard facts of the Tipu Sultan’s war in 1798. The British government had to be really tough to curb down the power of this undying medium. They immediately announced harsh and strict acts like the Bengal Press Act and the milestone in history, the Language Act. Words in any broadcast media live in time and die easy, but prints continue to stay for years together. Though, in case of books it is a very slow process, newspapers are an indispensable part of our lives. In fact, nowadays, the newspapers have turned out to be detailed magazines that cater to the entire family, let it be kids, mothers, fathers or the grand parents. Especially, with the new concepts where all the newspapers are smudged with colours and flooded with pictures, one has to admit, a picture is worth a thousand words. Nevertheless, it always suffers a drawback, that is, limited viability for the literates only.
Television stands above all mediums because it gives you a virtual experience. Even in the hot month of May it can make you undergo the shivers of December. It enjoys an edge above the print media as in this case it is the medium that grabs your attention rather than you trying to concentrate on the medium. It gives you the sensations in an unmatched package that comprises of colours, dialogues, music, picture, virtual atmosphere, sound effects, brightness, n no of characters, and, much more, all in all you instead of being a viewer become a character in the whole setup. It is evident from the increasing number of channels that television is the most effective medium to hit the common man and percolate the level of communication at the grass root level. ‘Aaj tak’ came in as a revolution in the news networks and evoked the voice of individuals on a national pedestal. Another major example to prove the gigantic power of this past days’ ‘idiot box’ is the sensory pain and an emotional setback that the entire nation underwent on the death of ‘Mihir Virani’ in ‘Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.’
Internet is a rather new concept and technically the most active one. Where it has come out with a boon such as e-mail, it has given us numerous banes. The Electronic Mail has overcome all the physical differences and cut short the time lapse. Needless to mention, all this was not possible without a once ‘accurate electronic calculating machine’, and today’s ‘versatile storage, calculating and operating device’ – Computer.
The shortcomings of the technologies can be analysed and justified with two contrast patterns of theories. The ‘Hypodermic’ or ‘Bullet’ theory reflects the fear or awe of mass media being used for massive propaganda. It suggests, that messages hit like magic bullets, shot directly into the receiver that are conceived to be passive and defenseless. To simplify it reads media to be extremely powerful and the consumers as naïve and malleable. This theory can be easily jeopardised with the ‘Individual Difference’ (ID) theory and the ‘Personal Influence’ (PI) theory. According to ID every individual consumer chooses his medium of exposure as per his convictions and beliefs (Selective Exposure) and reads into the received message in accordance with his preferences, perceptions, and needs (Selective Perception). PI explains the impact of ‘opinion leaders’ on the masses and how the perceptions are modified.
The youth with the selective exposure and perception and under the influence of opinion leaders have grown up to become ‘pre-mature adults’. Everyday we come across unheard and new psychological problems, increasing cases of suicides, and more and more patients of depression and AIDS. Though the problem cannot be attributed to any single factor, a major role is played by the unguarded cultural exposure that comes through internet, television, and media at large. The newest entries in this blind race are mobile phones that have created havocs with their untapped and easily accessible services that are Short Messaging Services (SMS) and the Multimedia Messaging Services (MMS). They are rising debates every month with their camera technology capturing private moments of public figures like Kareena Kapoor and raising question marks on a common man’s life with cases like DPS.
But mass media must be appreciated for its immense power in bringing about the world together. Visuals in America, miles away from India can be seen here through broadcasting technologies that too live. At times of emergencies like Tsunami all television channels gave up all their competitive rivalries and telecasted the ‘Telethon’ live on 15 television channels simultaneously to collect funds for relief purposes. In fact, this relief fund has been the greatest collection ever across the globe. The world felt the pain and grievances of the sufferers and came forward in their own sweet and heartfelt ways, whether big or small. It represented the grief and sorrow the country went through at the national level. Lately, the earthquake in northern India is being taken care of with the entire media.
To summarise, one can coin a simple statement – the global village is now rejuvenating in to a modern global city, with an immense zeal, that must be controlled and checked for the growing powers, in order to hold it, not only as a short term boon, but to not let it become a long term bane.