Pakistan has more than 25 million users of Facebook but the followers of Allama Iqbal’s are only 7.7 million. Allama Iqbal cannot compete with Atif Aslam who has 19.6 million followers. This says something interesting about our national ideologies.
All the government-sponsored textbooks of the country cannot make the online population click for Iqbal. The anti-corruption brigade also has not been able to compete with Atif Aslam or Allama Iqbal: Imran Khan has only 6.9 million followers.
The profile of the online population of Pakistan also displays an interesting trend. It shows that those whose online choices are being registered do not have any connection with the people’s politics. The Facebook page of Pakistan Muslim League-N has 2 million followers. Mian Shahbaz Sharif has 1.4 million followers. What this means for the politics of Pakistan is heartening. The clickerati are out of sync with the lay people of Pakistan and are seeking a neo-liberal, corruption-free Pakistan.
The data of Facebook followers also reveals that Pakistanis love food more than carnal pleasures. This means that Pakistanis are squeamish about registering their desire for carnal pleasures online. The online users are not only out of touch with the multitude, they are also out of touch with their own inner self. They are after ideologically-approved ways of expressing themselves or they pay empty tributes to the ideas that they are supposed to uphold. An article in Psychology Today hints at how food replaces the forbidden carnal desires. These are the personality driven pages on Facebook.
The online life of the people displays a populist inclination despite all the anti-music, anti-India ideas propagated by the state.
When it comes to places, the ideological divide is quite clear. There is not a single place in the top ten pages by follower count. Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital has 2.4 million followers, the largest number of followers. Des Hamara Pakistan comes at the second place with 1.4 million followers. It means that the admirers of Imran Khan’s charisma-driven brand of politics are more assertive in online activism. The consumer-friendly type of metaphysics represented by Junaid Jamshed, with his 6.4 million followers trails behind Imran Khan.
All this proves something very interesting about Pakistan. The online life of Pakistanis is extremely different from the offline life. The twitterati and the clickerati are a force of their own and do not reflect what the offline segment feels. Their politics is self-sustaining because they are embedded in their own feedback system of likes and dislikes.
The digital divide in Pakistan is of the same intensity as the divide between the global North and the global South because those whose choices are not registered online are the forces behind the two major populist parties. Offline, PML-N has shown a swell in the number of its voters. A report in this newspaper in February recorded this: PML-N has got "13 per cent more votes than the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and 44.71 per cent than the Pakistan People’s Party in by-elections" but this swell does not appear in the Facebook likes of the leaders of PML-N or PPP. The typical PTI sympathiser/worker seems to be more active in the digital sphere than the public sphere.
The guardians of the nation may be quite consternated to find out that Miya George, the Indian actress, has more fans from Pakistan (8.2 million) than the national poet Allama Iqbal who comes to the third rank in the number of followers after Atif Aslam and Miya with his 7.7 million.
The online life of the people displays a populist inclination despite all the anti-music, anti-India ideas propagated by the state. Among politicians, Imran Khan has the greatest number of followers but he cannot compete with the singers in popular appeal. The cultural values of the people overrule the ideological claptrap of the state everywhere -- online and offline.
(Note: all data is from socialbakers.com)
Published on October 30, 2016