Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
Scrolling down my news feeds yesterday, I came across a relationship update by a 15 year old junior from school. She had gone from being ‘in a relationship’ to saying that ‘it’s complicated’ (whatever that means). A few other stories later, I also found the same girl’s melancholic lament about not having known her love’s true worth and regretting having lost the special someone. A giggle and I sat down to thinking how normal this must’ve seemed to a lot of people I do or do not know. For today, as clinical as relationships are, the need to shout about them from the rooftops nears equally alarming proportions. I do not doubt the girl’s fondness for the guy, but I do ponder over how different their equation, or most equations today, for that matter, would be had it not been for our interpretation of the social media as a platform that encourages us to give voice to the most mundane, private aspects of our lives.
Public display of affection is a matter of choice. I do not judge the ‘muaah, sweetheart’s, ‘mah lyf would b nothing widout u’s and other incoherent stuff I read. The pictures you click and waste no time uploading within minutes are also fine. There are people who are comfortable with it and as an evolving society, I think we should accord them that space. What I do not understand is the constant need to make your presence felt and let people know that you have an opinion about everything from wafers to the Anti-corruption movement. To let every bit of you stand out there in the open, to be scrutinized, judged and often ridiculed. To let the world know you hate someone’s guts. Especially, as celebrities, who otherwise, go on endlessly about the need for the media to respect their privacy and not intrude into matters that concern only them and their families. Or, refrain from making a mountain out of a molehill and inciting people who are otherwise ‘proud members of the same fraternity’. What happened to the old school which knew how insignificant and short lived rumors are? Which understood that the best revenge is to let your foe know that he doesn’t make a difference? Which believed in the dignity of strength and silence?
Did we need to know what Shirish Kunder thought of Ra.One? No, we could’ve watched the movie for ourselves. We also could’ve done without Sonam Kapoor’s catty comments about senior writers. Or Ayesha Takia’s outrage against Kingfisher, fuelled of course by the scion of the family himself who couldn’t take a word against the brand he’s known by.
We live in a demonstrative world. But even today, I don’t see the need to express oneself constantly. Not every grouse, every emotion needs to be made public. It’s a bit like road rage, except that instead of screaming in front of a crowd of strangers, you let yourself go with people you met once at a party or were friends with till class 2 or in some cases, who follow you because they think your username or profile picture is cool. I can’t imagine anyone of our parents switching between different relationship statuses when they were our age. Or Jaya Bachchan and Rekha taking pot shots at each other through tweets in their heyday. The private space is exactly that. It’s private and sacred.
At the end of the day, we live in a democracy where we’ve all gained the right to lead our lives the way we want to. But from what I gather, the whole point of social media is to retain old bonds, form new ones and engage in fruitful, intelligent discourse where people with varied points of view can learn to respect each other. It doesn’t want you to wash dirty linen in public. That is neither democracy nor evolution. Somewhere, I think we’ve lost our way on the Information Superhighway. The way back is complicated. Even more complicated than the life of the girl who spends all day sobbing over the guy who’s decided to move on.