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November 10, 2018

‘Influence is power’: Mahira Khan graces investment conference 021Disrupt


Sat, Nov 10, 2018

“For me influence is generally a result of all your labour accumulated in a brief moment you share with someone who comes to you asking for a picture. It is nonetheless a huge responsibility,” stated renowned actress Mahira Khan at a conference titled 021Disrupt held in Karachi on Saturday.

Organised by the country’s leading tech incubator, the Nest I/O, 021Disrupt is the latest buzz in town that has brought together innovators, entrepreneurs and influencers on to a common platform. With a vision to help accelerate the country’s investment ecosystem by encouraging entrepreneurship founded by aspiring creators, the conference aims to highlight the significance of innovation in Pakistan.

At the centerfold of the first day of the conference remained a panel discussion orbiting around the topic of how celebrities influence the lives of the audience and the society at large. Titled ‘Influence is Power’ the talk featured some of the most revered TV and social media personalities, including eminent film and TV actress Mahira Khan, comedians Danish Ali and Taimur Salahuddin (Mooro), singer and comedian Ali Gul Pir, lifestyle blogger Amna Niazi and content creator Muzamil Hasan of Lol Studios fame.

The discussion was moderated by esteemed journalist Zarrar Khuhro, who in the due course of the discussion plunged in to greater detail of what it is like to be an influencer in this day and age, the many pros and cons of it, as well as the ethical considerations that people need to bear in mind while assuming the responsibility of becoming an influencer.

'Influence is Power'

“I believe viewers form a profound, intimate connection with influencers. There was once a girl who texted me in the middle of the night along with some pictures of her hand which had multiple slits on it, she was about to commit suicide because of her personal problems. I actually spent three to four hours talking her out of the idea of suicide and was actually successful in doing so. That is the power of an influencer,” shared Muzamil Hasan. 

'Distinction between private and public life'

Shedding light on the creation of content for a larger audience, Zarrar went on to question the panellists about how to strike a distinction between private and public life.

Responding to the question Mahira said, “I have realised that celebrities have so conveniently become ‘public properties’, as that’s what we get called. With time so much of my private life has become public, but if we are to become a public commodity, we are the ones who are in control of how much we want our private life to be shared. However, a lot of times the lines between private and public do get blurred.”

Mahira's fashion and lifestyle blogging venture 'Mashion'

Elucidating on a venture she launched recently called Mashion that acts as a blogging platform for women across Pakistan, the Humsafar starlet said, “So when I was in college I was a lot into blogging stuff. I wanted to initiate a platform where women hailing from all backgrounds, all demographics can share stories and be heard and Mashion does exactly that."

She added that she generally refrains from clickbait content being published on her  blog portal.

Whereas, vlogger/YouTuber and comedian Taimur Salahuddin had a different take in this regard, “I don’t think we can call it clickbait. If your content is edgy, emotive and punchy, I don’t think there’s harm in broadcasting it.”

 Muzamil Hasan  talking about the ethical considerations of generating content said, “A lot of times the content that people come up with is engineered and planned. So there are certain ethical implications involved that we need to bear in mind as we document content.”

'Government regulation of social media?'

Meanwhile, famed comedian and singer Ali Gul Pir seemed to be critical about government regulation of social media.

“I think the government should crack down on cyber-bullying and other crimes that take place over the internet rather than imposing censorship on influencers. If a government decides to regulate digital media it’s going to broadcast its own narrative only, which infringes the right of freedom of speech in a democratic setup.” 

In a nutshell, agreeing with the fact that social media influencers generally do have a responsibility to fulfill while documenting and broadcasting content, all panellists seemed to agree on the idea of censorship because it goes against freedom of expression for creators.