It is common knowledge today that ‘man’ is a social animal. But he was not always born into society, well at least not in the beginning. For society, as we know it today, came into existence long after man made his first appearance on the face of this blue planet. And the present form of society exists only because it gives man the comfort and solace of ‘recognition’. What else could explain why the first worldly possession a new born baby must have upon entering this world is a name?!
History will bear witness to the fact that man has always desired and welcomed attention. He has fought for it, prayed for it, evolved for it, and, today, lives for it and by it. The whole concept of society, in fact, rests on this single fact/assumption that man must have his place in this world, meaning thereby, that he must be recognized. For why else would systems of families and extended families, village and merchant guilds, cultures and civilizations, societies and empires, states and nation states have even come into such a structured existence? Or if they did come into existence by some happy accident then how could only these or only such systems have withstood the trials and tribulations of the ever changing times?! The only reasonable explanation to this question that I can think of is that man made sure that no matter what, these surprisingly universal by-products of the human evolution process remained intact. And even if at all they changed, the change only made them stronger and all the more permanent!
In fact, it would not be wrong to suggest that all of mans’ endeavours are and always have been aimed at being known and recognised more and more. Even art and human artistic aspirations like literature, dance and architecture are in fact projections of this fundamental principle, this human need to seek the solace of being noticed, admired and even appreciated. So, from the fine arts- ranging from prehistoric cave paintings to the graffiti of the present day gen-next, to the sprawling media industry of the twenty first century, one of the principle desires of all artists of all sorts is ‘recognition’. And the brilliant success of all endeavours that promote any form of human recognition only goes to prove how intricately this subconscious need of man has unconsciously been the driving force that has shaped the world around him.
This aspect of the human psyche was, consciously or unconsciously, recognized a long time ago, and as far back as 4000 B.C. man communicated his wants, and aspirations through cave paintings and rock carvings etc. The artists need for recognition stemmed from this and economies began to be spun around a system of placing a price on recognition. Thus were formed the foundations of present day industries. Also, languages were invented the world over so man could communicate his needs clearly and specifically more than anything else. And so civilizations began to evolve as art and culture flowed around the diversity of mans’ ideas and aspirations of being recognized.
It was only sometime during the 19thcentury, however, that the magnitude of the enormous business potential of this whole process could finally be captured. This was made possible due to several reasons, the most impactful of which were the spread of knowledge and growth of human population coupled with industrial and technological advancements. Although an entire paper can be dedicated solely to the subject of how this amalgamation worked, we shall skip that bit and come directly to its end result- the capturing of the business potential.
The printing press had been invented and perfected by this time. And advertising was already making a big difference of how man perceived the world and how he was perceived in this world. Then radio and television made its entry and the world gained another dimension- through the screen of the idiot-box. This technological genius was followed by the internet boom and satellite television. And all of a suddenly mans’ world view became clearer as he became aware of much more than he could imagine, and more knowledge flowed through the human brain with each passing day.
The instrument that made man bite the apple this time was termed ‘Mass Media’, a term coined in the 1920s. Mass media finally became not just an instrument of dispensing knowledge and recognition of its existence. Suddenly the self obsessed man found another means of eulogising himself. Suddenly man could be as great as media depicted him to be, and much more. It may have been God who placed man at the centre of the universe on the 7th day; however, it was the media that placed the spotlight on him! And through this instrument of media, a certain section known as the media industry began to make money out of mans’ need to be known- for now anyone could be made to feel ‘recognised through a system of forming well researched associations. And every man truly felt placed at the centre of his universe.
Granted that media today is not be an ethical agency. However, we must admit that it still is in its formative years. And besides, any agency that can bring smiles to a million faces, that can recognize that which can make a thousand hearts beat faster, can’t really be all that bad. So smile ‘Man’- you’r on camera!