The focus of this paper is the relationship between mobile new media technologies and non-elite youth in urban India framing social media as a marker for broader social realities and structuring youth engagement with them. Yet it remains a challenge to explain the rapid rise of mobile phone ownership and the preponderance of the mobile internet and new media among and amidst social disadvantage and constrained economic capacity. Millions of teenagers in constrained environments like the Indian slum are beginning to evolve unique definitions of internet technology having vaulted across traditional communication barriers to embrace mobile internet technologies: these have indeed revolutionized communication ecologies in technology constrained environments.
New media practices in India, especially among youth, broadly inspire two ways of viewing in popular media; as either techno-elites or as strapped humans in need of assisted digital literacy. The social media user is no longer an elite base but cuts across social segments in urban India. The themes we explore to frame this paper will be a departure from the established credo of new media youth practices. New media at the lower economic spectrum in India is, first, a mobile phone centric experience; second, marks the entry of the internet experience; and third, allows a hitherto unavailable trans-hierarchical class/caste social experience. We foreground the leapfrogging of digital media technologies as they re-characterize the genre of virtual life: a leap discontinuous and disruptive, revolutionizing the media ecology of young India.
Publisher Association of Asia Studies