Rise and fall in the age of social media

Social media sensation

Following his participation in Shaan-e-Ramazan, the flagship commercial-religious programme on TV with Waseem Badami, he has been featured in Vlogs by Ducky, Imran Riaz Khan and other social media celebrities. He was also visited by and promised fast internet by the officials of the highly-criticised only cellular network that has a monopoly on internet in Gilgit Baltistan.

Although he is used as a prop for views and likes that are translated into money when it reaches certain numbers, he (now his team as he has a manager who manages him) is also making something out of it. Soon he would be doing commercials selling us stuff while there are already rumours of him being offered roles in a drama.

I am, however, concerned about his mental health due to his sudden rise to fame on camera and the toxic celebrity culture. Coming from a mountain hamlet in Gilgit-Baltistan where everybody knows everyone, he is clearly adored by his people as seen in his Vlogs but this fame is new and not easy to handle. There are unfortunate examples of child prodigies in this industry who have gone through struggles once they reach a pinnacle of fame which comes even faster in the age of social media where (God-forbid) Shiraz will lose his lustre once another more attractive prop is discovered by a Wasim Badami and given platform on a huge private television network.

I hope and pray that Shiraz receives what a kid of his age needs such as love and care from his parents, some friends , an education and most important of all, counselling and pastoral care to handle this material fame that is short-lived. For now we all like, share and even burden his young shoulders to do our work of promoting tourism and portraying the true picture of our impoverished mountain home of Gilgit Baltistan despite the natural riches of water, minerals and potential for tourism which he is doing by comparing electricity in Karachi with his home or with his astonishment with tall buildings and a toy store.

After all Shiraz is a kid and he deserves to live a good life indeed but a good life of a kid- not a parrot tied to a camera or the other way around until he keeps on making money for the machine.

Images: reviewit.pk and youtube.com/@shirazi786


Rizwan K Qalandar hails from Hunza Gilgit-Baltistan currently living in London, UK. He is a researcher, digital storyteller. He is working at the IIS Special Collectios on the Global Oral History Project. He has a passion for writing on social, political and cultural issues of Gilgit-Baltistan.

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