I had a nice relaxing quiet Sunday and was getting ready to retire for the night, when I received a forward on one of the WhatsApp groups I’m on. Now my general rule is scan and ignore, or directly, ignore. Anyone who knows me, knows quite clearly that I don’t respond (and may not even read) a forward. However, scanning through this particular one irked me. It’s about a drug that cures blood cancer: one of the lines used in said forward/message is: “‘IMITINEF MERCILET’ is a MEDICINE which CURES Blood cancer. ”
I realise that many would probably treat this as fake and move on, but, what about those going through the trauma? What if they receive the message in a hopeless situation and for that one minuscule moment in their lives, allow themselves some hope? Doesn’t their battle start all over again? That brought me to another realisation which I had for a second time today: Why are we so quick to jump on the bandwagon? Not as a country, or a generation, or any kind of particular people — just as people of today’s society of any race, religion or any other demarkation you can think of. We see a post that says forward to as many as possible to spread knowledge, immediately we hit forward.
It isn’t just about WhatsApp and email forwards anymore. It’s also all the endless outraging we carry out on Social Media. At one point of time, all of us have been guilty of uninformed or partially informed outrage (including me). However, recently, this situation has gotten out of hand and it seems that we are looking for items throughout our day just to outrage about. Quite often the plot of the outrage also seems to get lost in all the endless back and forth.
A good example of this can be seen with the Milly Bobby Brown controversy. W has chosen to list a few actors on their cover with a title “Why TV Is Sexier Than Ever“. I admit in the wake of all the sexual controversies we’ve heard recently, the choice of headline is in poor taste, but that’s a different story. Go ahead and critique the magazine for its word play. However, let’s not immediately jump to conclusions and outrage against the magazine for encouraging paedophilia. Nowhere in the article does it mention that this 13 year old actress is sexually seductive. It talks about a list of actors and actresses who are interesting intriguing TV characters, thus making our television experience equivalent or perhaps more exciting than our movie-going experience.
While the world seems to be getting a smaller place with the fast-paced growth of technology and all of our instant communication, we, as individuals, seem to be shrinking along with it. Our ability to process that a single word can have multiple connotations has starkly decreased. For the purpose of this article, I thought “Let me Google the word ‘sexy‘. Maybe I am wrong in assuming that this ‘outrage’ is uncalled for”.
Granted, the first definition of sexy is the most obvious, but, lo and behold, here’s the second definition: “very exciting or appealing”
Sample sentence: “business magazines might not seem like the sexiest career choice“.
This should make the W headline clear as day – alas, anyone who visits Twitter for this topic knows the opposite to be true.
Let me come closer to home now; India. We have a host of problems within our country – I’m not even going to list them all as that’s fodder for a separate post, but what are we most focused on? Padmavati! Yes, the Deepika-Ranveer starrer, Bhansali film which is part of our Bollywood industry — an industry which is full of movies with incorrect depictions, the biggest being of romance growing, by dancing around trees, or synchronised dancing, in the middle of the street, with a ghost soundtrack playing in the background!
Reading this you may think that I am against Bollywood movies — quite contrary. I love a good movie, but what I want out of a movie is an escape from the torture of this world we live in. I don’t care if the movie is not realistic because realism is not what I’m looking for in a movie. For facts, I’ll read books, watch documentaries, even try to find reputed sites where I can look up the information online. I believe this is the vast majority of people.
Yet, thanks to the encouragement from a few of those in power, there is so much outrage against the movie, that Viacom18 decided they would be more comfortable postponing the movie and have worded their communication very carefully.
“More details specifically on the movie controversy here“
This is our “jump on the bandwagon” nature. We have had a varied number of movements through the centuries – the free speech movement, the human rights movement, the hippie movement, the anti-apartheid movement – to name a few. Some have been serious battles to overcome disastrous injustice, some have been futile causes, some have had good intentions but lost momentum because of the distractions that cropped up — but all have had their moment in time. The movement which the society of our time seems to be hell bent on is “The Bandwagon Movement”. “If all these people are doing it, I should too!”
That attitude baffles me. Are we really becoming a more intelligent people as our knowledge and our access to knowledge grows? We have a plethora of information available to us at the touch of a button – pause for 30 seconds, Google for what you’re talking about and if it’s likely to do more harm than good, think about whether you should actually be forwarding/outraging. Be a responsible citizen, not just of your country in the traditional political sense, but of the globe – A responsible, upstanding world citizen who takes the trouble to see the whole picture and not just hankers after likes, shares and popularity, no matter the cost. There’s a popular quote “You will never influence the world by being just like it” — Words to live by.