Credibility vs Convenience

I recently had the opportunity of attending the India Digital Summit 2007 held here in New Delhi. One of the fears expressed by speakers was that the youth today has a tendency to believe just about everything they read on the net. This becomes critical when it comes to sensitive information like health, politics and education. Very often, postings on the net intentionally or unintentionally are built on a bias, which often gets transferred to the unknowing reader.

A blogger, for instance, may write about a particular world event while being miles away from it. He (for convenience's sake - 'he') may himself not have enough information to talk about that particular incident and even less, may not even know the other side of the story. Very often in cases of criminal acts, one has to remember that the "accused" is only so until he is proven guilty by court of law. This is just one of the examples where individuals may take liberty to write about something they are not fully aware of.

I am not saying that blogging should be politically correct or even neutral. But the importance that blogs have come to play in our lives, to the extent that they are threatening other news sources, makes it essential for bloggers to at least acknowledge their limitations. For instance, if you are writing down what you heard somewhere, try to cite the source. If not, admit that the information may not be accurate.

I understand that blogging is a very personal activity and a freedom of expression. I agree that it should be left that way, but bloggers should also make sure they don't give rise to biased sentiments and claim all that they write as their personal opinion (unless there's another source's quote).

Again, I reiterate that this precaution has only become necessary due to the growing influence of blogs, especially among the youth. Yet, it would also be wrong to expect people (like me) who look at blogging as a way of expressing themselves, to worry about social factors.

Therefore, the mainstream media will have to become more youth-friendly - not by adopting 'slang' but picking up issues they can relate to. I find the idea of talking to teenagers in affected slang equivalent to 'goo-gooing' a baby. Teenagers are not dumb. They are intelligent enough to comment on world affairs. The internet has given them a voice, so they flock to it. It's about time newspapers, TV and radio did the same.

I would say that internet does have a way of making people jump to conclusions. This is because they get less time to think about what they are writing. I may be wrong in this very post. Maybe bloggers are more responsible that I think. The point is that any individual who publishes on the net should understand that freedom of speech comes at a cost, that is, responsibility. You have to understand that you are not talking to yourself but putting information on a medium that reaches millions of people. Again, freedom of speech should not come at the cost of the liberty of others. Bloggers cannot demean or criticise others just because its easy to do so.

Ultimately, blogging is not subject to any rules. That is the beauty of it. The only saving grace is that if good thoughts exist in an individual, it comes out in his/her expression. So, as long as there's goodness in the world, we can rest easy.
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