Indians closely followed the demolition of Noida’s twin towers on the Internet on Sunday. Shortly after an implosion triggered by 3,700 kilograms of explosives brought down the towers in the afternoon, feeds on WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and other platforms were flooded with photos, videos and memes.
The Supertech twin towers were the tallest buildings to be demolished in this way in India. This was also probably the first time that an event of this magnitude was filmed, consumed and mass disseminated on social media across India, even streamed live.
According to experts, it could even spark a new trend in Indian social media – witnessing a spectacle live – in a way that the collapse of the World Trade Center in New York proved to be a game changer for live television.
“You normally imagine things being built, but the idea of something big and imposing suddenly disappearing into a cloud of dust is a compelling sight,” said columnist Santosh Desai. “In a way, the 9/11 collapse of the Twin Towers was a game changer for live television because we could tune in from around the world and witness an event of this magnitude. It is something of a universal moment that is being captured, something horrifying and unprecedented happening unfolding before your eyes,” he said. “The demolition of Noida is nowhere near the same in terms of scale, but the quality of being a spectacle and the fact that there’s a certain universal shared feeling makes it such a moment and that’s why why you have all that hysteria around him.”
A Twitter user said it was good that the demolition and the India-Pak game took place at different times of the day; otherwise it would have been difficult to decide on a film.
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Cyber psychologist Nirali Bhatia said whether it was something as serious as the Bilkis Bano case, a joyous one like India’s victory over Pakistan, or sensational like Sunday’s towers collapse, everyone wanted to be part of the larger discourse online. “It’s all about content. And it’s about being the first to reshare and update your content across all platforms,” Bhatia said.
There’s a total disconnect or desensitization to incidents, and people are just looking at something that’s trending or something that’s going to help them create content, she said. “We look for entertainment and move on to the next trending topic. It’s left us constantly longing for the next big thing on the internet that’s going to be a topic of conversation that we can contribute to in a conversation at our own expense, lacking empathy and building connections.”
Attention is the most expensive currency today, said an Instagram content creator who asked not to be named. “It’s all about views and creating hype around an incident. The demolition of the Twin Towers is the best example of this. And today’s internet culture in India is so ephemeral,” said this person. “The night was all about the India-Pak game and the spectacle of the morning was forgotten.”
Creating content about something that’s trending is the best way to grab attention, he said. And it only needs to be done when that particular trend is relevant. “There’s no point in making a meme about the Twin Towers being demolished in a month. It will not have the same effect. As content creators, we’re like hamsters on a wheel, constantly churning out stuff just to stay relevant,” he added.
But there’s a more ingrained aspect, said Megha Marik, a research fellow at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It’s the fact that as long as we’re not directly affected by something, we’re able to distance ourselves and appreciate the humor in it.
“The Internet provides a platform for everyone to have their say, and accessibility is also an important aspect,” she explained. “So when someone is talking about something that you’re not interested in, there’s a larger culture that’s constantly at work to make you feel like it’s important and that you need to have an opinion about it or not be a part of it.” are group talk.”
“The teardown was something that happened in reality and resonated through the virtual world across the country, connecting many people who might not have been physically connected to it or touched by it. It’s not the physical touch we’re talking about, it’s that kind of digital touch that allows someone to be passionate about something like this without having an emotional stake in it, and even make content out of it for greater consumption,” added Marik added.
And Tarun Kumar (not his real name), an IT professional working in Chennai, said just that.
“There’s something therapeutic about seeing something fall that doesn’t belong to you,” he said. “I admit that after a long day at work and clashes with bosses, clients and co-workers, I enjoy the mindless scrolling of Instagram and the celebrity bashing and roasting videos that people are making. And when it’s something like Twin Towers, it becomes a simple conversation about water coolers in the office, and nobody wants to be left out of it.”