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October 24, 2009

Being the Fifth Estate or the Revolutionary Vehicle: How huge is our responsibility as bloggers

It’s just been a decade since blogging started, and yet the blogosphere attracts millions of netizens everyday. Every bit of news is followed up by tens or more of opinion blog posts. Consequently, these opinion follow-ups elicit comments and reactions from more people.

Blogs, whether opinionated, rhetorical, or explanatory, make news and concepts easier to understand. Though not recognized at a level of institution, the blogosphere continues to bloom and draw a loyal audience.

Are bloggers the Fifth Estate?
So, is blogging making ways for the Fifth Estate online? According to Stephen D. Cooper, it is. He has declared this in his book, Watching the Watchdog: Bloggers As the Fifth Estate. Though I am yet to read the book, I agree with the idea. A need for the Fifth Estate hit me a couple of years ago when I observed the Fourth Estate going astray. Any form of Fifth Estate will require a wide-reaching platform along with an uncurbed freedom to opine. Now, what could be a better way than the globally-unifying, far-reaching internet!

The blogosphere may never replace the regulated conventional media, but may help keep it in check.

Why is blogging a phenomenon?
Blogging began with individuals getting a platform to express themselves, as singular units of web pages. A decade later, you will find not only individual units but also increasing clusters – in the form of multi-authored blogs and blogging communities. In a multi-authored blog, a number of like-minded individuals unite to create interesting posts. Blogging communities make an effort to unify bloggers with similar interests from across the globe.

Lately, events of global and regional interest are celebrated by several bloggers, making public statements. Like the recent arrest and release of Al Farhan in Saudi Arabia. He was arrested for blogging. Thousands of bloggers united against his arrest and carried a ‘release Al Farhan’ message on their blogs. Apart from uniting for shared interests, bloggers are uniting for causes - for human rights, raising their voices against and about abuse, war, repression, inflation – any and everything that affects the common man.

Why will blogs sustain?
  • Ease of publishing: Blogging lets people publish their opinions without waiting to be approved. There are no demanding editors or busy publishers, just a click of the mouse and you are published for the entire world to see!

  • Instantaneous reach and reaction: One can get responses within a few minutes of the post going online. Blogging is a truly global phenomenon, uniting people.

  • Creative freedom: Apart from the freedom of expression and a platform to showcase, blogging gives bloggers immense creative freedom.
Are we ready to shoulder the responsibility?
Blogging also adds some burden with the creative freedom it offers, that is, if you feel responsible to make a difference. Are we using the freedom to bring about a change? The pen, we used to say, is mightier than the sword. The written word will always be. Can we help bring a change to the current state of affairs in the world today? As bloggers, can we not make our loyal reader aware of the environmental issues concerning the world today? Can we not help support and fund a good cause somewhere – at the school of blind a couple of blocks away or for an anti-child-labor initiative in a third-world nation? Can we not make an effort with our written word? I am sure we have the will; we just need the courage.