Why do millions online listen to 'lectures' that they mostly hate to do while in classroom, training centre and professional workshop?
Contrasting realities- freedom from exams and obligation to prove knowledge - may have separated the two forms of deliberations, defining the people's choice. Many remain glued to smartphone to watch video statements, instead of reading books for pleasure and going to theatre for recreation!
Easy to consume visual content may not be the only incentive for changing taste. You can't also brand the audience thoughtless. Verily, these millions deliberately refrain from browsing around all those filthy jokes on the net. There is utility of solo speeches in society, as evident in the trends in the 2010s and onwards.
These 'monologues' are replete with made-easy solutions, personal success stories, varieties of tips, promotion and sales of ideas, services and products, dissents, political rhetoric, or preaching that promises salvation in the world here and hereafter.
The growing popularity of public speaking online is a testament to degeneration of dominant cultural activities such as music, drama, cinema, painting and poetry recitation that can no longer attract the larger audience.
So, the motivational speakers have grabbed the stage, reading the situation that demands new discourses.
They are the extraordinary pieces who've surprised the puzzled majority and are attempting to replace yesteryear 'role models'. In the conflict between truth and falsehood, some of them say what is not or can't be said. Another group talks about surrealistic issues, not clear to followers. Aggrieved ones convey hyperbolic messages that reflect extreme realities of life, society and politics. Some expose lack of education and sophistication.
The speakers of higher following have established their commercial importance, as they can monetise the number of net users they pull in.
Some are willing to invoke a change they would love while others want to strengthen their grip on followers and others, if possible, by using celebrity influence and clever narratives. Who welcomes a succession proper in this country!
"Aanilam oporichiter naam dhoronite/ Porichiti janatar saronite (I've brought in an unknown persona to the world, into the procession of the known populace)," was how Rabindranath Tagore had introduced a new poet, Nibaron Chakrobarty, after fictitious criticism of himself in the novel Shesher Kobita (The Last Poem).
The recent act of making an exclusive list of 'new generation intellectuals' by some self-styled intellectuals is indicative of an 'old wine in new bottle' phenomenon. Its protagonists have apparently expressed their intention to dictate the future narratives despite the social media criticism questioning propriety and decency of such an initiative.
They've virtually made another statement: Intellectualism is also a matter of listing their names and being bracketed within a group. Ah! They know others would be automatically secluded from their like-minded circle or compelled to come up with an alternative list. In any case, they are in contention for self-proclaimed title, 'the conscience of the nation', no matter whether they identify national problems and present solutions or not. Some of these fellows, if not all, have perhaps embraced the short-cut path like that of the neo-motivational speakers who managed to generate controversies and public nuisance.
In the past as well, not all classical books had been rated the best sellers at their times, nor had art film directors found good investors. Jibanananda Das was once dubbed the poet of the un-poetic people by cynics. Only a few intellectuals do transcend their times through their tested, uniquely creative works. Speeches by some great characters of different periods dominate the video platform, especially YouTube.
Innumerable speakers, devoid of high intelligence and long vision, have emerged just as fillers in the social void. Their social standings may be summed up with an anecdote: A stranger was asking a man sitting at a basement not to smoke. "You waste Tk 10,000 a month, i.e. Tk 120,000 a year. Had you stopped smoking 30 years ago, you could have saved Tk 3.6 million and made a savings of Tk 10 million in banks for buying a flat," the motivational speaker argued. The smoker reluctantly replied, "I am the owner of it right here." A major section of the so-called intellectuals do not understand the pulse of the Bangladesh people, or else, they are not true to their declared purpose.