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Our Potemkin Reality

birlikte yaşadığı günden beri kendisine arkadaşları hep ezik sikiş ve süzük gibi lakaplar takılınca dışarıya bile çıkmak porno istemeyen genç adam sürekli evde zaman geçirir Artık dışarıdaki sikiş yaşantıya kendisini adapte edemeyeceğinin farkında olduğundan sex gif dolayı hayatını evin içinde kurmuştur Fakat babası çok hızlı sikiş bir adam olduğundan ve aşırı sosyalleşebilen bir karaktere sahip porno resim oluşundan ötürü öyle bir kadınla evlenmeye karar verir ki evleneceği sikiş kadının ateşi kendisine kadar uzanıyordur Bu kadar seksi porno ve çekici milf üvey anneye sahip olduğu için şanslı olsa da her gece babasıyla sikiş seks yaparken duyduğu seslerden artık rahatsız oluyordu Odalarından sex izle gelen inleme sesleri ve yatağın gümbürtüsünü duymaktan dolayı kusacak sikiş duruma gelmiştir Her gece yaşanan bu ateşli sex dakikalarından dolayı hd porno canı sıkılsa da kendisi kimseyi sikemediği için biraz da olsa kıskanıyordu

Potemkin reality is an oxymoron apparently, as “Potemkinism” is as divorced from reality as a gospel truth is from falsehood. The term is derived from the memory of a fake village created to impress the Russian empress during her visit to Crimea in 1787. India’s shining reputation as a land of plenty and prosperity comes to mind as an example of a Potemkin reality, a term that masks the ugly reality of one of the largest number of people living in abject poverty – some 228 million people. But the subject here is not India, but the Potemkin reality of domestic politics in Pakistan. All political parties in Pakistan have woken up to the social media and the digital technology revolution, as per their own political weltanschauung.

A few decades ago, the terms in vogue were propaganda and information operations, which later gave way to a new coinage — strategic communications. Originally a US coinage, which meant use of information to advance American national interests, the concept caught on with other countries too and was refined by the likes of Steve Statham from UK, who concentrated on communication strategies including target analysis, conduits required and the effects desired. Robert T. Hastings, former Assistant Secretary of Defence in the USA defines strategic communications as “the synchronization of images, actions and words to achieve a desired effect.” Some critics excoriated the strategic communications exercise as the old Goebellian propaganda, with 21st century technology.

Critics were right in highlighting the velocity and power of the technology in altering the policy landscape of strategic communications. Social media’s participatory nature and its subsumption of digital technology however added a Potemkin dimension of imagined reality, along with its puissant dissemination through public friendly platforms like Twitter, WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and TikTok etc. The absence of regulation, editorial checks and initial capital cost turned these platforms into digital equalizers to mainstream electronic media which was still tied to regulatory strictures. Lax libel laws and regulatory instruments like PECA (Pakistan Electronic Crime Act), with exploitable loopholes created a free for all social media environment in Pakistan amenable to no regulation.

The political parties that had hitherto relied on the mainstream press and electronic media started relying on top three social media platforms – Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp for political canvassing and narrative formation. Twitter came in handy too, with an elite bubble using it as their preferred tool to give traction to their preferred political discourse. President Trump tweeted Twitter 8,000 times during the 2016 presidential campaign and 25,000 times during his presidential tenure, raking in 88.9 million followers for the tweets, which were his official communications. The saving grace for the USA was that it is a more literate society compared to Pakistan, where the standard of education and awareness is not as advanced as USA.

The Trump model was very appealing for adoption in a changing political landscape in Pakistan. There was a young and restive cohort of the population fed up with the old ways of politics, that yearned for change. The change that they envisioned personified honest leadership that privileged the national interest over the personal interest, that was capable of opening up job opportunities and ensuring equitable distribution of public goods in society. For a country mired in debt and suffering multiple security threats, both in traditional as well as non-traditional spheres, the realization of those expectations was a tall order. The creation of a Potemkin reality by living down a dystopian reality therefore emerged as a strategic communications imperative that was understood by political strategists and communication specialists of the major political parties.

Each political party understood and embraced the new social media reality differently, with the new entrants leading the charge and the old guard like PPP and PML-N following suit at a slightly slower pace. While social media sans the normal regulatory strictures performed very effectively for political parties, its strength was also its fatal flaw. That flaw was a disconnect between the Potemkin unreality and the dystopian reality. While the strategic communicators painted a feel-good picture of the economy, governance, and human security, reality kept biting a population yearning for real change on the ground. A change of government due to a vote of no confidence in April 2022 rescued the incumbent party from public ire, but its strategic communications model endured as a model for other parties trying to play catch up.

Now a country like Pakistan that is beset with structural bottlenecks to its economic revival cannot afford heady doses of Potemkin unreality, even for political canvassing. When each political government, instead of concentrating on these economic bottlenecks, ranging from a lack of industrial & agricultural productivity, to weak tax collection, power & energy crisis, and widespread elite capture of resources starts projecting a false Potemkin version of reality, instead of painting the ugly reality – warts and all, the ultimate result of all strategic communications based on false premises will be public frustration. The digital warriors on social media might keep weaving their Potemkin magic for their gullible followers but at the end of the day such attempts would come a cropper.

When public expectations are dashed, and their social media soused sensibilities ultimately confront the ugly reality of no jobs, no food and no security, the level of anger and frustration will rise with logarithmic proportions. Therefore, the standard tactics of strategic communications, employing classic propaganda techniques like Big-Lie, defamation, Door-in-the-Face, half-truths, name-calling, card stacking, bandwagoning or any other technique based on deception, will only yield temporary dividends, ultimately ending in the ugly denouement of truth. This is so because the very technology that enables propaganda has the potential to uncover truth for the target audience.

There are however two big problems here. One is the polarization factor, and another the remunerative cost of lies. The political discourse has been so polarized due to regular sniping on social media that any painting of reality would appear a climb down for any party that has ridden the crest of populism based on a particular narrative. Second is the monetary inducement due to YouTube’s policy of paying anchors with a large following, with the absence of any moral or editorial checks on the content that YouTube rewards for virality. The subscriber base and followership can be enhanced easily through content that might not pass muster on the criteria of ethics, social responsibility, or political correctness.

Remuneration to YouTube anchors has to be tied somehow to the production of responsible and ethically correct content. Unless that is done, content creators and consumers are left to their own self-censorship, which is a weak prop to support the desired equilibrium between sensation and sense. Would social media platforms driven by profit offer adequate incentives to modify content creators’ behavior is the question all future media regulation discourses need to be focused upon. The Potemkin reality meanwhile, can continue painting a bright picture only to later rue the stygian gloom of our ugly reality.

Note: This article appeared in The Friday Times, dated 13 April 2023.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent Institute’s policy.


IPRI is one of the oldest non-partisan think-tanks on all facets of National Security including international relations & law, strategic studies, governance & public policy and economic security in Pakistan. Established in 1999, IPRI is affiliated with the National Security Division (NSD), Government of Pakistan.


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