It is 3 A.M. and you open up Snapchat to catch up on what those one hundred people you barely talk to have been doing all day, and you are fairly amused to be greeted with the same stories from the same place with similar captions, instantly reminding you of the big event that was supposed to be “all the rave” this week. Naturally, the stories have to be the same. Now you check Facebook, lo and behold, it is hashtag galore of instagram feeds and status updates of that very event. So you think for a while what you just missed out on; everyone had so much fun! Was it the Classical Music Fest, the Jazz fest, the Folk fest, those thrice-a-year-Comicons and food fests or the very recent “Pop Republic featuring Joss Stone”? Maybe it was all of them. However, for you, “everyone” might just happen to be a very specific strata of people within the thriving social media community of Dhaka.
The lucrative consumers of events as such, old and new, are promoted through the events’ Facebook page. It is rather interesting to see how we feed our deep-seated hunger to be one and same with the First World pop culture by devouring the “new and exciting” events that leave us with a sense of being more liberal and diverse. But more importantly, and far more intriguing to many, are the revamped old deshi events that play host to a new strata of audience, wanting to believe they, too, are aware of their buried roots; that they feel the desperate need to uphold their “culture” – they are interested and invested in things beyond material consumption and they understand the importance of art. While I should aware you right now that I do not speak of everyone attending these events, but it is important to note the ones who fall under this paradigm. Sad but true – there are a lot.
Dhaka Pop Expo
Therefore, the question of “why are they going?” morphs into one that asks “isn’t there something intrinsically common within this group?” Of course, connoisseurs and avid followers will always take up their interest and passion and attend events that please them. But then you stumble onto a crowd who feel the need to attend all social events and congregations, and when they do, they feel the need to illustrate how incredibly fun all of this is going to be. Maybe it was fun, but it is important to note how these particular strata, rather a cult, in question often enjoy participating in all the festivals around the town. To be more acute: the pleasure is neatly threaded to their engagement in social media, and this is where we chip in with our analysis: There is a phenomenal drive for belonging that happens to work here; there is a sense of security, derived from a constructed social identity that gives them a shelter and a shade from the typhoon that is globalization.
Now we all have our need for acceptance and belonging. While you and I may fall on one spectrum of the trade, the other spectrum – the festival cult – might just be the front runners in adopting a first world, twenty-first century, “Americanized” outlook on life in a Third World nation. The concept of valorizing individuality and difference works very strongly within this community, and in the process of nourishing one’s unconventionality, they have successfully created a new convention that rely on social media insurance of their habits by and large. So, do not be surprised when you find some of your friends, frantically searching for a riding group to the Eluveitie concert, convincing the gang how this event will be la extraordinaire, creating this unbelievable hype and praising the nation and the entertainment business on its ability to bring such artists to the country.
These events turn out to be a site where people can fulfill their sense of belonging to one another, and when they check everyone else’s updates, they are relieved to know they are not the only one. These people associate themselves to a very different image of Dhaka, yet they would never admit to it. Why, you ask? Because for them, it is their reality, their everyday; for them, it is so normal that this possibly becomes the best way to live.