Everything is content

Monday Musing

[ Nellie N Manpoong ]

As a novice in the kitchen, I often look up recipes online, especially YouTube. Recently, I received a tub full of diced bamboo shoots from my cousins. Although I do know a few recipes that require these shoots, asking for that simple yet spicy bamboo shoot pickle recipe slipped my mind at the time. However, I had my online video sharing social media platform and I started searching for ‘Arunachal bamboo shoot pickle recipes’ on YouTube.

One of the first ones to pop up was Pooh Vlogs, which had several recipes specific to Arunachal, and fortunately, bamboo shoot pickle was one of them. Her recipe helped me get the basics right and I got creative with my own version of the pickled bamboo shoot.

And then there was the already popular Lenzing Weekly channel, whose content varies from cooking, to singing cover songs, to travelling, and giving viewers a glimpse of a little of everything of Arunachal.

Scrolling further, I went looking for the Monu Official channel. I had seen a couple of his videos, and while some people find some of his bits cheesy, I became a fan of his honest-to-god attitude and humorous antics.

There are several other YouTubers from Arunachal, but their numbers are considerably lower than those from Assam or Nagaland. And though some may not find such ‘local’ video content up to their standards or even style, the number of their subscribers speaks for itself.

YouTubers, also considered influencers, have the ability to influence potential viewers/consumers by promoting or recommending products and services on social media.

However, as one of the trending audios on social media says: Everything is content. From waking up in the morning to going to bed at night, and everything in between – everything is content. In fact, a holiday would be the biggest provider of content for such influencers, many of whom go on sponsored trips to exotic locations and 5-star rated resorts and hotels. As per a Google search, the first video on YouTube video is a visit to the zoo, so such everyday life videos should not come as a surprise.

YouTubers or influencers on other social media, such as Instagram, are not only limited to producing content on cooking and travelling. There are numerous others (even professionals) who provide other helpful content in crafts, academics, music tutorials, exercise routines, etc. There is a titanic amount of content that people use to sell their products, as well. A home baker spends their time not only baking but also capturing every single step that goes into baking their goods, which doubles as an advertisement for their product.

Easy-to-use video editing apps have also made life easier for influencers. Add a trending audio to your reel or story and you are likely to get more views, likes and subscribers.

During a study conducted for a dissertation in 2021, I learnt that India’s digital population is at approximately 688 million active users as of January 2020.

By region, social media growth in 2019-2020 is led by Asia (+16.98%), followed by Africa (+13.92%) and South America (+8.00%).

In 2020, over 50 percent of India’s population was accessing social networks. It was estimated that by 2025, this penetration of social networks would be 67 percent of the country’s population.

While there are still speculations on whether creating online content on every single aspect of your life is the right career path, we have to accept that it has come to become a legitimate profession. The 18 percent GST rate levied on the income of service providers, YouTubers, bloggers and freelancers goes to show that even the government considers it a legitimate form of income generation that has to be taxed.

As per the Chartered Club, in case the total turnover of the service provider, blogger, YouTuber, freelancer is less than Rs 20 lakhs for the whole year, it is not mandatory for them to register for or pay GST.

However, for those from Arunachal and 10 other Indian states, the threshold limit is of Rs 10 lakhs.

Social media is a relatively new phenomenon in Arunachal Pradesh, where telecommunication disruption is the usual norm. Nevertheless, the numbers of influencers keep growing and the ones who are doing well and earning a considerable amount of income through social media are the ones that are consistent with their content; creative, tech savvy and have the patience to watch their viewership/followers grow.

With so much power in our electrical devices to influence followers, content creators should be extremely cautious on what goes out to the world. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but influencers should ensure conducting proper research, especially on sensitive matters, and prevent half-baked information from meddling with young impressionable minds and causing chaos.

The government too can work on enhancing the communication and technology sector of Arunachal and engage the youths by utilising their skills and positive influence in a way that benefits the content creators as well as the state.