Peace Out, Bro.

Do you remember the time when as kids we would shut our ears, stick our tongue out and make weird sounds to signal that we have stopped listening to the other side, when in an argument? Well, blocking people on social media is exactly just that.

I remember the era when internet would take ages to connect with that peculiar voosh-voosh sound, and if and when it did, by the time it would even manage to open my email – which obviously had nothing urgent or important or mail – my time was up. Then with Orkut, it just sort of replaced our slam books and scrap books. With the overwhelming information that Google had to offer, it soon was sought out as more of an educational tool than a recreational one.

Internet had expanded our chance of having discussions, making informed opinions/decisions, but it also has given us the liberty of shutting the screen, switching off/or between tabs, and blocking anything or everything that challenges our views.

Internet was also a potential prospect of meeting with like-minded people. No, I am not talking about Tinder, d’uh! But, we become aware of other people who also are blocking the same things/views/people as us, and suddenly that gives a great power to our thought, ingrains it into us more than ever, and we block other views with renewed zest and enthusiasm. This is sort of leading to a “cult” culture over every opinion that we have.

putting-your-opinion-out-on-the-internet-is-frowned-upon-meme

So today it is very difficult to just say anything you feel like about any issue. Because the moment you open your mouth, you are either a bhakt, or an AAPtard, or just downright stupid. Either you are a feminist or a chauvinist. You become a libtard, right-winger, anti-national, intolerant or Pakistani even before you completely keep your point.  If you are against Trump, you are pro-Hillary. If you are against Hillary, you are pro-Trump. You are racist, body-shammer, islamophobic, or ….and if you aren’t one of these my-way-or-the-highway kind of peeps, then you are just ay!

This is now not only the story of the internet, but also in the outside-social-media life. The recent elections in America or Brexit has proved that we all are living a (judgmental) bubble of our own. But we forget that a bubble doesn’t even need something as sharp as a needle to burst, you know! And well, it has.

This change has been quite drastic, and rather too rapid for my liking. Of course, “change” has various connotations today, and I am not talking about the new prevalent – Do you have a change for 1000? – Kind of change. But, change must be such that it does not eliminate people or their ideas. Because this majoritarian attitude will only reduce our way of life to an idiot mechanism. As Shiv Visvanathan puts it – The change we need is a change in the idea of change itself.

Well, I am going to begin with not thinking that Indians who celebrated Thanksgiving have less IQ than the stuffed turkey on the table. Peace.

Game Of Thrown

What a week!! – I still don’t know if I mean this shockingly, or surprisingly. But that, only time will tell, I guess.

For our local, and global politics, this week may have been a great economic and political roller-coaster ride, but for me it was quite a learning experience. Major three things that I learned this week are:

  • Academic credentials and knowledge have very less, or rather no place while selecting/electing people for important positions in our country. (Throw away your books, kids). This current party in power things that all that we need to know to run a country is there in our Vedas and Shastras. Which is true if you want the society to regress, as against the popular belief that we must progress.

Just for their pea-brain to comprehend what their actions will result to, all I want to say is- You have successfully managed to throw out Ram from Raghu clan. Go figure. (Ok, was that comment evident as being sarcastic, or should I judge you guys for judging me?)

  • Europe has its own issues. What? You mean it isn’t that perfect destination where Yash Chopra’s heroines survive snow in chiffon sarees? Please don’t take that away from us. Anyway, this Britain exiting may affect them, but for us nothing changes. Film-makers will still shoot at Ramoji film city and keep our idea of Europe intact! Perfect. Beautiful. Romantic. Expensive.

Brexit-EU-referendum-Cameron-cartoonYou know, patriotism seems to be the last resort to settle any kind of debate, and to win any kind of election. Whether it is our own Marathi Manus craze, the “Hindutva” political party rule in India, or Britain exiting European Union. A popular belief is- If it can happen and has happened, it will happen in November as well. With that America loses all its hope around Trexit, and the trend targets towards Trenter. God save America!

  • Shirish Kunder is getting a lot of appreciation for his short film on YouTube. For God’s sake, he is the mastermind behind epic films like Tees Maar Khan, and Joker. Well my faith in creative film-making, or my choice of films was restored when it was revealed that this short film was an out-and-out copy of a Nepalese movie. Classy, I say.

Meanwhile, India is just blown away that we could vote British out. A country that ruled over more than half the globe has tasted “independence” now! Irony just died a thousand deaths. What this holds for them, whether it is an opportunity of a lifetime, or are we going to be witness to systemic destruction of Europe- only time will tell. More pressing issue at hand is how awkward is it going to be at Euro Cup now?

I know a bunch of people who have no clue what this Brexit is about, all I want to say is – Don’t worry. This buzz is not for the spoilers of Game of Thrones- though this may seem like a game of throne. No-one’s dying. Or are they?

For the rest of us, let not Britain’s black Friday hamper our weekend plans- It’s the sale season!

Lights, Camera..Cut!

Warning: This column is not yet rated.

A scientific study has proved that about 90% of India’s economy is dependent on important people giving stupid statements! (The rest is powered by subah ki ek cup chai). Only this can explain why day-by-day our newspaper headlines are about politicians turning into pre-primary school teachers, and treating everyone in the country like toddlers. By proposing 80-90 cuts in the movie Udta******, the censor board not only showed the film-makers their place (i.e. 18th century), but also revealed how the certification board is merely a political puppet.

A lot of the concern comes from how films might affect kids. This argument is as tiresome now as it was when I first heard it- as a kid. It is like taking a kid to a pub, and fighting for Junior’s joy box. I’m sorry, but you cannot enforce public policy based on the opinion of your child. What are you – the Congress party?

In this particular movie, the controversy is around showing Punjab in a bad light. I mean, come on! We belong to a country where our favourite pass-time is to make babies, and kill the female ones. A team of 4-5 Aloknath-bred so-called moralists don’t have the right to moral police the entire country- on screen. Because off-screen, we could really do with some censoring of our actions, our mentality, our collective conscience.

The controversy over cuts made in the film Udta Punjab reveals a deeper dilemma about the role of a film certification board in a modern democracy. Does the Board stand as the self-appointed guardian of community and religious sentiments, which are to be interpreted as it likes? CBFC stands for Central Board of Film Certification, yet it is known as the censor board in popular parlance.

censorshipNobody gives you the right to interfere with somebody else’s right to freedom of expression. Five people cannot decide what millions and billions of people should or should not watch. The whole censor board itself is a farce in a democracy. And I think, we’re the ones to blame for this. Of course, when I say ‘we’, I don’t mean myself. I’m talking about people with stupid sentiments.

British essayist George Orwell rightly said that “threats to freedom of speech, writing and action, though often trivial in isolation, are cumulative in their effect and, unless checked, lead to a general disrespect for the rights of the citizen”.

Also, it is perfectly okay to not like a movie. You don’t have to like everything you buy a ticket to, be it a movie, a play, a comedy show or the midget bowling alley. You have the right to come out and tell people what you thought of it. What’s worrying is when you use your personal opinion to stop others from forming their own. Seriously, go away. You’re not a….

…[The censor board did not let me finish my article]

 

PS: Just in. Kudos to Advocate Dharmadhikari (what an apt name) for saving us from taking baby-steps to becoming North Korea. He said – “We want creative people to survive, and an industry to survive. You have to show the reality!”

Comedy Mein Tragedy

The funniest thing that happened last week was that a certain Tanmay became a Bhat of all jokes! Alright, I know it is passé, but what is anybody going to do about it? Send some goons to chop my legs of? Doesn’t that sound bizarre? So it was when a certain righteous party threatened to act in a not-so-righteous way!

Fun fact: The title track of AIB in their videos is – Tragedy mein comedy. But who thought that comedy could end up being so tragic! Oh, not for Tanmay! I am talking about India. Tragic for India. I just realized it this week that the cumulative IQ of our country is far less than what I had imagined!  You know something is really amiss when a country wants to put a comedian behind the bars for an unfunny joke; and nobody cares or dares to talk about a terrorist’s call to a politician!

Cartoon-on-freedom-of-expressionYes the joke wasn’t funny. Yes it was crass. But so is IPL to cricket. Is anyone complaining? People who like it, watch it. People who don’t, switch the channel to watch Sooryavansham. So if you don’t like the video, don’t watch it. Simple. If you can make fun of one person on this planet, you can make fun of anybody! There are so many jokes on Raj Thackerey. I am surprised how he was not offended by them! Oh, maybe they were true! And exactly why this is not true. It’s a stupid joke!

Jokes apart, why do we take ourselves so seriously? Why are we always so offended?

I think our insecurity lies elsewhere. Identities have become our only anchors in a wild river of change. Actually, our social identity to be precise. Whether we are an AAptard, Gandhian, overweight, gay, Bihari, Salman-fan, engineer, Modi follower, or God forbid, Donald Trump – anything – but it cannot be a laughing matter for anyone else! And beyond that identity, please don’t ask who we are. Because, nobody knows!

However, we are offended by everything we are not. You can’t eat the food you like but I don’t, can’t read books that I don’t understand but intensely hate, and lately, can’t joke about Sachin Tendulkar or Lata mangeshkar, because I am a Marathi Manus, and so are they! Well, till now I believed you could only not construct fly-overs near their residence. But apparently, you can’t even joke about them! Touché.

But you know what, we are not offended by a child-marriage story being telecasted at prime time! We are not offended when lots of sexist and misogynist jokes become viral on WhatsApp. We are not offended when the government is drowning all its citizens in a cess-pool, when all they should being doing is create more cesspools! We are not offended when political parties don’t get so worked up about communalism or rape, as they do about a stupid joke on a stupid app that no one even knows about. Bravo.

The joke is on us.

Scroll

XX-Cartoons-Ironically-Showing-Our-Smartphone-Addiction__605You swipe left. You swipe right. You check your Facebook feed. You scroll through your twitter timeline. In the meantime, you receive a few good morning messages. As if text chat wasn’t enough, you snapchat. You read some breaking news about a leading actress-turned-black magician. You keep your apps open. You close your life.

You eat while scrolling. You scroll while eating. You wake up, and scroll. You scroll before sleeping. You look around, and everyone is scrolling. You see a beggar, you witness an accident. You want to help, but instead you click and upload. You fish for likes, you want approval. You are oh so cool. And then you go back to scrolling – scrolling your life away.

Do you know the feeling when the roller coaster stops and you are still, but the world is still moving? I am perpetually in that state! The world is moving too fast- change is too hurried. Even before one adopts and adapts to change, it has changed already. And may be twice. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to say, our maps and world view are out of date because the world is changing really rather fast.

More and more it feels like our lives have turned into a gruelling race towards a finish line we never reach.  Curiously, there has been very scant discussion about this dramatic speed-up of society. People may complain about how busy they are, how over-loaded modern life has become, but speed is viewed as generally positive – something that will help us enrich our life.

tb538ea_Boy-that-escalated-quicklyWhen I say the world is changing, I am speaking about every single aspect. From the literal sense of the planet Earth changing, to the people, the mentalities, the beliefs, the cultures, the technology, and the most important one: purpose. People have lost the sense of purpose, putting them in situations of utter confusion. We do not have time to sit and think about life amidst all this conundrum!

Having all the information on your fingertip kills the surprise element of our life. By the time kids are 25, they have been witness to everything that can be experienced by body and mind! Nature of the mind is such that it is always looking for newer experiences, something unique to keep it going!

In this age of high-speed internet, way too much information is thrown at you. There is a simulator for every kind of experience that there is. One knows how a different part of the world looks like, how the cosmos looks like just by sitting in their room! There are no revelations, no secrets, no privacy, and no novelty in this day and age. As one theory states – Don’t be surprised if suicides increase henceforth. Because the mind may want to explore beyond death, with the death of curiosities in this lifetime.

To sum up, I will use the last few lines of one of my most cherished poems by David Weatherford,

“When you run so fast, to get somewhere – you miss half the fun of getting there.

When you worry and hurry through your day,

It is like an unopened gift thrown away.

Life is not a race.

Do take it slower

Hear the music, before the song is over.”

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“I cried because my 3G wasn’t working, until I saw someone without a smart phone!” – Rumi

The day is not far when we literally see such posts, and we need therapy to overcome the pressures of social media! Yeah, typing can be so exhausting and taxing to the brain! Phew. Give me that protein shake! I plan to do another circuit – of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Zomato, Quora, and Snapchat- before I cool down with YouTube!

It is so hard to believe that people were actually “alive” when Facebook was not around. In fact, it is just about 15 years ago, when there was no email, and we would actually wait to hear from one another! I wonder when I grow old, will I still be able to keep pace with this ever changing technology! It is like Christmas every single day, a new gift that science claus showers us with!

What comes to your mind when you hear the term “Social Media?”

Perhaps some use it to communicate with people around the world (obviously, we don’t talk to the person in the next room. Or do we?). Some others use it as stress buster, and give 1 star reviews to people who did not consider their request for free sukhi puri after a plate of pani-puri. Oh, look at those grinning marketing and PR guys- it is like the great IT boom from 2005 for them now! While I am just struggling to look for my digi-cam(#swag) to take the picture of this cutting chai, just so that I can transfer it to my computer, to transfer it to my phone, to upload it on Instagram – *bliss*. Oh, don’t judge me, the chai stained my camera lens, and now all my pictures have an in-built sepia mode. Hence.c6545387078dc51e5056cf068518b9e9

Social Networking Sites are fast emerging as powerful and unparalleled tools to share information, shape opinions, connect people across domains and cultures, bring participation, and above all to communicate as never before. This is just the beginning. Social Networking Sites are still at a very nascent stage and communities across the world are just beginning to understand the potential of this medium to impact discourse and communication.

Even though it creates a few negative impacts on youngsters (or may be educates them in more than one way), we cannot think of a world without these websites today. So, corrective and preventive measures should be taken towards these negative effects and the young people should be well educated and must have proper awareness regarding such problems of Social Networking Sites.

My only concern is that our evolution will go back by a few thousand years, all thanks to the cannot-straighten-my-neck-anymore due to obsessive compulsive disorder of checking the phone notifications every millisecond! A big shout-out to all the people who check the phone last thing at night, and first thing in the morning! Welcome to we-are-unemployed-and-we-know-it club!

I am just waiting for the day, when we will share our screenshots of Facebook on some other website – botoxkindle for all you know- and tag them, “Nostalgia.”

BREAKING NEWS- Thank you for raising our TRPs

Media is a business, it is a business of news. The trouble is when media gets to the business of breaking news. It breaks all boundaries of ethics and logic, and the whole drill of “please-watch-our-channel” is way too apparent.

What has happened in the last few weeks is but an expression of this! It has been a great ride for all the media houses with so many incidents and topics, juicier than Frooti. Right from the Hardik Patel taking the government for a ride to Indrayani Mukherjea giving ideas to Ekta Kapoor for her new plot, media has gone berserk. It has overshadowed other important news like Kalburgi murder case or Baba Ramdev launching his own brand of instant noodles!

Superficial coverage has become characteristic of Indian news media because of breaking news syndrome! Research, permissions, analysis has no place in this whole game of sensationalism. This has proved to misleading information in so many cases, and then the apology that is rendered so feeble, if at all. But the damage is done, and an innocent has to live with this public humiliation. 24-hour pressure for the channels soon led to reporters thrusting their mikes on victims of a mishap to single-handedly engaging an entire nation in a family-tree puzzle.

Last week Anurag Kashyap put up a picture with “plaster” on his eyes on an oh-your-phone-picture-is-so-hipster website, indicating it as a result of a brawl with MMA fighter. Immediately, the news spread like wildfire, just to know later that he had trolled the media houses to prove a point. Media fell flat on its face. A few people called this experiment lame.

But it is not. It just is the sorry state of affairs with Indian media today.

Introduction of social media has aided in adding more spice to this. Just last week, one girl’s Facebook post costed an innocent guy his reputation. He was declared as a national pervert in the honorable court of Facebook, and many media houses ran this story even without listening to his other-side! Turns out this girl was closely associated with a national party, taking revenge for he-did-not-listen-to-her-and-hurt-her-ego! But the damage was done, and the guy – though proved innocent- was humiliated across the country in just a matter of few hours.

Media is the fourth pillar of democracy! But it seems to have shaken, since the line between “news” and “views” has diminished! Objective news has become a far-fetched dream! The pressure of proving oneself innocent in “Noise at 9”, and putting your point across Arnab Sardesai’s trial is much-more than remembering your wife’s birthday!

In the past, it has proved to be a successful medium between the government and the people. Media was probably the strongest tool in our freedom movement. If handled wisely and ethically, it can actually aid in solving important and urgent national issues. If only they can stop being the seeming corporate puppets, who knows, we could actually be successful in eradicating poverty, if not cynics!