Thursday, September 22, 2005

Imagined Communities

People who study Mass Communication or related fields would have often heard the term 'imagined communities', which refers to the publics as target audiences or subjects under governance.

These days, imagined communities can be very real, especially with interactivity of communication on the Internet. Take the example of forums. People participate and voice their views publicly, but these people do not reveal their real names and often use short names or nicknames to hide their identity. These are people I would term as real imagined community or communities, since there are so many forums on the Net.

Another imagined community which is very real indeed is what known as Online Communities, such as the popular friends’ community sites like Friendster and MySpace. People participating in such communities often feel attached to the imagined friends they have in their list and through participation in their forums and multimedia groups, people begin to identify and feel belonging as if they know each other personally.

For example, models, movie stars, and popular personalities have their fan clubs formed in groups where audience can subscribe to access photographs, chats, discussion messages and many more. The star of the object needs only place occasionally entries of messages, say, to describe themselves, and all subscribers will be able to know the object intimately, sharing with others of like minds.

These imagined communities can become very real, depending on the amount of participation by the individual in commenting or writing testimonials on their imagined friends' blogs, profiles, and photographs.

With such technology these days, people do not feel as lonely as they should be, because they can imagined virtually the 'friends' they have, but in reality, such 'friends' are often imagined and some are represented by avatars, which essentially are fake identities, so whether the other party is real or imagined, disguised or true, male or female, it is up to one to decide to what extend he or she should indulge in this unreal world!

Friday, September 16, 2005

Confession of a Pusher

You may be wondering what a pusher has to do with writing or journalism, but do not be mistaken, this article is not about drugs or about acts outside marriage. It is about what captures the attention of the readers and about captions and headlines, so if you wish to know what the pusher's confession is all about, read on, for the story begins here ...

It irks me that I am a pusher and I have to do it daily. It is not as if I am enjoying it, but rather I don't have a choice.

Let me tell you my story, how I became a pusher. I work it a place remote from public transport and I have to take a feeder bus to reach my destination. Each time the bus arrives, a huge crowd will gather to enter to a one-door entrance up the bus. There is no queue to decide who goes in front of another nor the cue to know the exact spot where the bus will stop, so everyone has to move discerningly in anticipation, to position a good spot when the bus is seen arriving.

When the bus arrive and stop, all hell will break lose and everyone will be rushing to get up the bus relentlessly. Some passengers however will be stricken with fear of stampede and freeze without moving forward, and that is where I become a pusher.

I push people to move forward to reach the bus. Many people surrounding the bus will try all angles and means to make their way forward and up, inch-by-inch, step by step, but with some fear stricken people ahead, there is seldom chance to reach the goal. The only way, therefore, is to PUSH ahead using a finger or one's body, with a stare that can kill, to make sense to the person ahead, to quit being a stumbling block and move forward and up.

This is my story of how I became a pusher, and it is an unpleasant daily experience for me, because I have always pride myself in acting gracefully, but for this case, I do not have a choice, so if you are one of my victims, I hope you will understand.

As you can see from what is written above, a header or a title of an article plays an important role in drawing the attention of readers and target audiences. Like tabloid news, however, sometimes the content of the story may fall short of expectation of what the headline may have promise. This is what is known as sensationalizing news, which often leaves the readers disgruntled at the end, if he or she ever reads to the end.

A lesson for the writer or journalist is therefore to write responsibly, professionally, and credibly, in providing a content that substantiates what the headline promises.