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(Non-statutory warning: Reading the article below could be injurious to readers’ mental health and leave them a wee bit depressed. Caution is advised.

The author is reasonably certain that this article is not an outcome of the kind of wholesome pessimism which is believed to envelope one in advancing age.)

There is a mood of despondency which descends upon my frail grey cells once in a while. Dark clouds which have gathered upon me are accompanied by sinister rumblings. Lightning streaks of a menacing kind keep lighting up the sky, duly followed by thunderous howls which pierce my ears. One peers into the future and one shudders to think of the kind of world one would leave behind for our progeny to live in. Tectonic plates of our society appear to be shifting, causing major upheavals.

No, one does not allude to the pandemic stalking us these days. Nor does one refer to such universal problems like global warming, economic disparities, widespread poverty and illiteracy etc. Instead, one refers here to tectonic plates of a different kind – the ones which impact our value systems, human values, social harmony, honesty, fairness and justice, norms of democracy, absence of truthful and factual information, materialistic progress, and the like.

Consider what is happening around us these days.

Some Ground Realities

The Lack of a Conscious Approach to Business Goals

Businesses continue to be driven by greed and avarice alone. Hapless CEOs have no other option but to keep delivering results from one quarter to the next.

There are no guarantees that Volkswagen will not soon come up with yet another technical trick to befool the regulators and its customers. Boeing may yet again secure approvals for launching a model which might put air passengers’ lives at risk. Financial scams will keep tumbling out of corporate closets at a standard frequency which might put an atomic clock to shame.

Think of rising inequalities. Consider a report presented by Oxfam at the January 2021 World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda, titled ‘The Inequality Virus’. It says that the 1,000 richest people on the planet recouped their Covid-19 losses within just nine months of 2020, whereas the world’s poorest could take up to a decade to recover from the pandemic induced setback. I am certain that philanthropic initiatives of the richest have not suddenly seen a proportionately higher uptick.

So, every crisis that humanity faces turns out to be an opportunity for the well endowed to amass greater wealth. Is this the kind of Materialistic and Unconscious Business model that we wish to continue following? Our answer would of course depend based on whether we are from the ‘haves’ side or the ‘have-nots’ side of the society.

The Monkey Business Called Politics

Probity and decency in the public life of our leaders is long since buried. Gone are the days when vibrant democracies needed a strong opposition to thrive. These days, even the President of a country can himself turn against the hallowed portals of democracy and send rampaging mobs braying for the blood of those out to declare him defeated in an election. In other words, it is one of those promotional offers – you vote in a President and get another one for free!

The aforesaid top boss’ term has revealed enormous gaps between the ideals of American democracy and the reality. Even before he exhorted his followers to attack the Capitol and the legislative branch of government, he ignored watchdog rulings and constitutional safeguards, pressed to overturn the outcome of an election, and pardoned those who covered for him, all the while funneling taxpayer dollars to his family business.

In yet another country, the main adversary runs the risk of not only being poisoned but also getting imprisoned on some ground or the other, while those in power brutally suppress dissent marked by men’s underwear and gold-painted toilet cleaning brushes.

World over, there is no dearth of leaders who have dictatorial ambitions but mask these well with democratic credentials. Speak of transparent political funding and all one gets is the silence of a tomb.

In yet another country, lies, obfuscation of facts and clever data management seem to have become a norm. Photo-ops, positive optics and feel-good media feed by devout followers keep the entire nation in thrall. Attempts to stifle dissent and to paint anyone not toeing the rulers’ line as unpatriotic continue unchecked. Getting offended by comments made by those living thousands of miles away appears to have become a national pastime. When a stand-up comedian speaks up, our clairvoyant nature allows us to guess what offending remark he is yet to make. Prompt legal action gets taken, nipping the intended mischief in the bud.

Building physical infrastructure is simply great. So is the drive to embrace technology to make life of a common man simpler. But when this comes at the cost of demolishing social harmony and making a democratic country free of any kind of opposition worth its while, the long term price of a ‘progress’ of this kind is rather high. I am not an economist, but I wonder if an economy can grow while the society itself is getting fragmented.

World over, quite a few governments have even used the pandemic as a cover to suppress dissent and cut short processes to introduce laws of an unpopular kind. In the process, their soft power is bound to dive down.

The Rudderless Social (and Anti-Social) Media

During 2020, in India, when our northern neighbour had encroached upon our land, and when the media should have been doling out useful health tips for people to stay safe in the midst of a pandemic, the only ‘breaking news’ was the suspected suicide of a Bollywood actor and the activities of his girl friend.

Social media, duly backed by smart algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, keeps shaping our thought processes, our choices, our preferences, our perceptions and our beliefs. We are already living in a fish bowl where the law makers as well as the private players are hands in glove to sell detailed information about us to the highest bidder. Privacy concerns and personal liberties be damned. Pretty soon, it may happen that government support is available only to those who have a pro-government presence on various media platforms.

The whole idea is perhaps to help a lay person evolve into a dumb chum of the first order, unable to use his own judgement in matters of public importance; essentially, to numb the person’s grey cells. In other words, we all become zombies (or jack asses, if you prefer) of the first order.

Little do we realize that there are no free lunches in life. Any service available to us free of cost over the world-wide-web we have spun around ourselves only means that ‘We, the People’ are the product on sale!

If our social media czars do not come up with a realistic code of conduct for themselves soon enough, governments, to salvage their public image, may soon have to start dishing out harsher laws.

Perhaps, one of the czars will soon set up an academy to groom many of our whizz kids into becoming ethical hackers and algorithm developers.

Neglecting Half of the Homo Sapiens

If they stay at home, their contribution to society is never even acknowledged. Rather, it is taken for granted. If they venture out of their home and hearth, lustful gazes disrobe them mentally. If they get violated, they only have to take the rap. In war zones, they are the instruments used to inflict deep wounds on the psyche of the other.

Yes, I refer to the tribe of the so-called delicately nurtured. They are the ones upon whom Mother Nature has conferred the unique capacity of keeping our civilization alive and ticking. They may be as tough as nails and proving themselves to be better than the so-called sterner sex in all fields of human endeavour. A fact which was reinforced yet again when a deadly pandemic arrived at our doorsteps. In public, they may get put on a pedestal and revered. But in private, they often get treated like a doormat, treated as mere objects, only to be used and abused.

Doting lover boys, upon metamorphosing into husbands, often shed their chivalrous masks and start behaving like dictators. If a family breaks up owing to mistreatment, ridicule, abuse and violence at the hands of their husbands, it is the lady of the house alone who gets the entire blame – for being obstinate and uncompromising. The general view is that she is a gold digger of sorts.

Such a patriarchal mindset is not an exclusive prerogative of the poor alone. Nor does it respect geographical boundaries. Education levels also do not make much of a difference. Take couples across different countries, economic status and education level and one is apt to find this to be a universal phenomenon. The Chivalry Quotient may vary across all these parameters, but a singular shortage of preux chevaliers is felt all over our planet. Religious beliefs and even some spiritual tenets reinforce such derogatory views.

In respect of the legal framework, our experience in India has been a mixed one. The females have learnt the art of terrorizing their husbands and their families by foisting cases of imagined harassment, with the sole aim of securing better settlements while seeking divorce. Surely, the training in chivalry truly begins at home – either in the kitchen or at the dining table. Laws can play only a limited role.

The tectonic shift taking place here is that of divorce rates going up and couples preferring to remain friends with perks. Upwardly mobile wives who can stand on their own feet detest drawing husbands who refuse to wear skirts and help out with domestic chores. Once the family structure crumbles, there is a higher probability of the value system of the next generation going for a toss.

The Silence of the Lambs

In many of the issues brought out above, are we ourselves not responsible for the mess that we are in? The silence of our intellectuals, the self-centredness and public apathy of the middle class which more or less upholds values in society and the mute surrender of the common man – are these not some of the factors which have enabled this situation to have come about?

Many years back, I vaguely recall having read a satirical story in Hindi, written by a well known humourist in the language, Hari Shankar Parsai. A herd of lambs is made to believe that few wily foxes alone can solve all their problems. Pretty soon, foxes get voted in. One fine day, a ruling comes that to save the ruling foxes, some sheep should voluntarily surrender to be sacrificed each day so the patriotic fervour is kept alive and the nation is run effectively!

I am not a political science buff. Thus, I am not qualified to say if democracy as a model of governance is failing us. But one of its enabling factors is the presence of conscious leaders who are not shameless and still have traces of humility, empathy, decency and a concern for genuine overall good.

With No Malice towards Anyone  

Educated youth who have no means of earning a living, will they not have a raw anger simmering within them? Will the poorer lot not take a jaundiced view of grand government schemes the benefits of which do not reach them?

Perhaps there is a feeling of helplessness within them. Perhaps they have dollops of patience.  May be they realize that they are too small to bring about any change and feel it is better to accept things as they are and continue wallowing in misery and self-pity, blaming God for all their troubles.

But is a meek acceptance of murkier developments in the world around us a better approach? Can we not dissipate the seething anger within by at least saying what we find to be reproachable? Can we not break our silence of the lambs and speak up?

With Whom Does the Buck Stop?!

Are we ourselves not a part of the problem? Why have we, reasonably educated and rather wise people, decided to outsource our thinking processes and have instead opted to become zombies?!

Do we not keep patronizing companies even we know they have been cheating in the past? Are we not the ones who get swayed by propaganda and cast a vote for a particular party or a particular leader? Do we ever boycott a media outlet which acts as a mouth piece of those in power?

If we are addicted to, say, WhatsApp or Facebook, can we really blame their inventors for the issues that we face? Don’t we find it convenient to remain in touch with our friends and family members through these platforms?

When we notice a female being harassed, are we not likely to look the other way? Is the onus of ‘adjusting’ not always put on the female? Can we take a pause before we make a victim the facilitator of a crime?

Overall, by remaining a mute spectator and witness to acts of corruption, misinformation, lies and half-truths, do we not become accomplices to such misdeeds?

It is not wise to altogether point a finger at others only. A knife kind of a tool is given to us. Let us use it to prepare a juicy dish and not to hurt someone. The choice of usage is with us.

Our endeavour therefore should be to stand up, be courageous and outspoken. This alone can get us counted. Even if there is one sane voice amongst all the noise and din, it would resonate with other like-minded individuals out there.

Our salute needs to reach out not only to those who are already raising their voices but also to the decision makers who might eventually get around to listening to us.

Some Silver Linings

All this is not to say that there are no silver linings in the dark clouds hovering above us. As P G Wodehouse puts it, even when the air is pregnant with V or W-shaped depressions, there are always silver linings on the clouds. We shall do well never to repine, never to despair, but to work upon our own selves and on others in our sphere of influence. It is good to remember that, no matter how dark the skies may be, the sun is shining somewhere and will eventually come smiling through.

There are business houses which keep following good values and ethics in their day to day operations. There are leaders who respond well to challenges like social disharmony and stalking pandemics with a dash of human values. They treat dissent as a valuable input for their decision making processes. We also have very few social media and gig economy barons who are being forced by their own employees to either shape up or ship out.

Lawmakers and pressure groups in USA are already reported to be thinking of ways to bring in a wide-ranging overhaul of ethics, laws, the likes of which have not been seen since the post-Watergate era.

Perhaps, eminent legal eagles in India can also take a leaf out of the USA experience. As a country, we had experienced suppression of dissent even during the 1970s, when an emergency was declared. Can some more constitutional safeguards be brought in so that a popular mandate does not give the executive the right to ride rough shod over other arms of the government, thereby increasing the probability of the country being taken in a direction which is not the same as what our founding fathers had envisioned?

Above all, it is the man on the street, busy keeping his body and soul together, eking out a living for his family and even helping others in distress. When the scales from his eyes fall and he wakes up to a life threatening situation at hand, he reacts. The farmers in India are already showing their resolve following the strategy of peaceful protests and civic disobedience used by Mahatma Gandhi many decades ago.

Then we have lone wolf professional bodies. World Without Corruption in Belgium gives businesses a voice in fighting corrupt practices. The Conscious Enterprises Network in UK speaks of conscious leaders leading their enterprises in a holistic value-based manner in all spheres of human enterprise. The Center for Business Ethics & Compliance in Russia is focused on best practices in the realm of ethics and compliance.

Likewise, in India, Spandan Foundation is passionate about human values in organizations and even plans to set up a centre dedicated to the cause. Shakti Leadership highlights the importance of using feminine traits like empathy and compassion in decision making and assists individuals and organizations in their quest for conscious evolution. The Association for Democratic Reforms keeps relevant political issues alive and kicking in public eye.

I am sure there are many others scattered over other continents. Their attempt is to bring like-minded people together and keep the embers of a pious fire aglow, focused on values and ethics.

The Mighty Churning

The society is always in a flux. These days, it appears to be undergoing a mightier churning which reminds one of the episode of Samudra Manthan (The Churning of the Sea) in Indian scriptures. The churning throws up poison as well as the nectar which grants immortality. Those who believe in following the path of righteousness end up securing the latter.

It is easy to see that we have a leadership crisis on our hands. Since a situation also produces a leader, one hopes that more and more conscious leaders keep emerging, nudging us in the right direction.

Admittedly, the silver linings appear to be like a pale parabola of joy, to borrow an expression from P G Wodehouse. This will remain so till the time a bevy of conscious leaders – whether in business or in politics – do not appear on the scene and convert this into a shimmering parabola of bliss.

The solution is not to keep sweeping issues like hunger, poverty, economic non-inclusion and prejudicial animosity under the carpet. Nor is it to raise the existing walls, whether political, commercial, attitudinal or religious. It lies instead in a truly global view based on the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam: The World is One Family.

Being a born optimist who believes in having a chin-up attitude, I do hope that some of these tectonic shifts can at least get retarded, if not altogether reversed, in the years to come.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/06/17/why-the-wren-is-a-patriot-and-not-a-nationalist-guest-post-by-prof-badri-raina

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2020/11/23/jeeves-and-the-social-media-challenge

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/bertie-jeeves-and-the-internet-of-things

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/bertie-social-media-and-blogging-blues

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/01/10/jeeves-seeks-a-placement)

 

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‘Wodehouse is the perfect antidote to today’s misery’, says Gavin Ashenden in one of his posts wherein he  highlights the role played by negative news and contrasts it with the sublime joy dished out by Plum in his narratives. The post is highly relevant in today’s pandemic-ridden era when even the credibility of our media channels, social or traditional, is at a low ebb. I personally know of at least two persons who passed away during the 2020 spate of lockdowns, primarily because of an overdose of negative news.

Here is his post of 2017 vintage, brought to the attention of Plum fans by Morten Arnesen recently.

I’m not sure that too much news is very good for you.

A constant diet of misery chosen by some random news editor gets poured into our ears by a radio, or batters our eyes and heart on the TV. Bad news always grabs our attention; good news, not so much.

The hiatus of horror trumps the tedium of the tepid. After a while, we get used to the non-stop human misery. We develop a thicker skin, toughened against other people’s suffering.

Twenty-four-hour news cycles have only made it worse. We need antidotes to this one-sided misery fest. One of mine is P G Wodehouse. Some people met him for the first time on TV, through Jeeves and Wooster. I slip into his world of rampant aunts and the magic of his mix of metaphors with a sigh of relief.
Once heard, who can ever forget the image: ‘The Right Hon. was a tubby little chap who looked as if he had been poured into his clothes and had forgotten to say “When!”’

If you have wilted under the constant curse of ‘I told you so’ from your well-informed beloved, you recognise the affliction of Mavis at once: ‘There are girls, few perhaps but to be found if one searches carefully, who when their advice is ignored and disaster ensues, do not say “I told you so”. Mavis was not of their number.’

And perhaps my perpetual concise favourite: ‘I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled.’

Wodehouse didn’t come by his plots or his phrases easily. It was hard perfectionist graft. He would take the pages of the day and pin them on the wall opposite him. The best pages would get fixed higher up the wall, and the weaker ones lower down. Then he would take the lowest and work on it to improve it and pin it up higher… and go to the next lowest and so on…
Anyone who has struggled with relatives in general and aunts in particular, will enjoy: ‘It is no use telling me there are bad aunts and good aunts. At the core, they are all alike. Sooner or later, out pops the cloven hoof.’

He married an American chorus girl and wrote the lyrics for Hollywood and Broadway shows as well as crafting the most beautiful English novels that enfolded you into a world that never had been, but you longed to be part of; a world of innocence and charm, where malice was restrained, brains were optional and friendship always triumphed.

His own world grew more complex in 1939. Living in Le Touquet in northern France with a community of well-bred and well-heeled expats, he failed to foresee the speed of the German advance. He wasn’t alone in this. Most of the British High Command made the same misjudgment, but unlike him, they weren’t arrested.

He was. He found himself shoved into a cattle truck and after three prisons ended up in a converted mental asylum near the Polish border.

Throughout his time in Tost, he sent postcards to his US literary agent asking for $5 to be sent to various people in Canada, mentioning his name. These were the families of Canadian prisoners of war, and the news from Wodehouse was the first indication that their sons were alive and well. He risked severe punishment for the communication, but with careful turns of phrase managed to evade the German censor.

Having turned 60, he was released and sent to Berlin where he was asked to broadcast to the US. The Germans hoped they had a propaganda success on their hands, but Wodehouse used the five broadcasts to describe the horrors of internment using laconic understatement, heavy irony and razor wit.

But the British public, freaked out by the radio broadcasts of a real traitor, Lord Haw-Haw, couldn’t cope. They turned to hate. Particularly dense MPs demanded that if he returned he be tried for treason. He was interviewed and exonerated by MI5 in Paris in 1944. He fled to America at the end of the war. It wasn’t until the 1980s that the British public got over their fit of clumsy moral hysterics, but they had forgotten rather than forgiven.

When asked if he didn’t hate the Nazis, one more question designed to flush out the traitor in him, he replied that he found it impossible to ‘hate in the plural’.

Hating has become a political as well as a personal problem recently. When even the state has taken charge over mapping our minds to flush out our ‘hate crime’ and other politicised moral misdemeanours, there is something to be said in taking refuge in the simple nostalgia of innocence in his novels.Laughter lifts a fallen world. We can learn, too, from his blank refusal to hate class, gender or race.

Both the news and the world would be a better and easier place, if like Wodehouse, we absolutely refused to ‘hate in the plural’.

(This article of Gavin Ashenden had earlier appeared in the Jersey Evening Post: https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2017/08/17/comment-wodehouse-is-the-perfect-antidote-to-todays-misery)

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{Here is a transcript of the Key Note Address delivered by Reginald Jeeves at the recently held Annual General Meeting of the Society for Prevention of Internet Narcissism (SPIN)}

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to thank your esteemed Society for having bestowed upon me the honour of sharing some of my thoughts on the issue of remaining happier and safer in these challenging times.

I take the liberty of calling our present as a challenging one not only because of the pandemic we collectively face these days. I also do so because we all suffer from another pandemic – that of the so-called social media spreading mistrust, misinformation and misgovernance.

Values which are vanishing like Indian Fakirs

I believe that truth and reality have taken a back seat. We live in an illusory world of our own where reality is nothing but a simulation. A handful of smart and goofy code developers are increasingly shaping our opinions and controlling our collective behavior. Given the dense fog of a media which tends to become more anti-social with each passing day, facts do not penetrate through to us. Commerce determines content. Aesthetes do the window dressing. Governments monitor it to manipulate us, giving democracy a run for its money. Privacy has gone for a toss. Our social conscience has started changing, resulting in the sharp rise of hate, mistrust and discrimination across the planet. The milk of human kindness is getting evaporated fast. The psychology of the individual is changing. It is ‘I’, ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’ which rule the roost.

I am sure that the Chief Patron of SPIN, Sir Roderick Glossop, while delivering his concluding remarks, would touch upon the rapid evolution of our loonier instincts in much greater detail.

Let me hasten to add that I admire the unique benefits that social media has brought to us. Acquiring knowledge has become easier. Newer modes of networking have emerged. When facing a crisis – medical, environmental or otherwise – help is easier to seek. It has made distances irrelevant, cocking a snook at the concept of international borders.

Subtle changes to the psychology of the individual   

Allow me to share some of my concerns with you.

One is the immeasurable power of certain companies in shaping public discourse anywhere in the world. Helping those in power to keep spinning out yarns to their gullible public and keep projecting a larger-than-life image of them.

The underground money making apparatus, duly supported by mining users’ data, aided and abetted by technological advances. The result is an invasion of our privacy, a fact which many of us are blissfully unaware of.

Thanks to persistent lockdowns, my boss, Mr Bertie Wooster, is no longer getting sozzled at late night gigs. But he still needs one of my trademark pick-me-ups. I keep discharging my feudal obligations, helping him to overcome his present addiction to social media. His mood swings have only become worse. Absence of a like on one of his posts featuring an audio clip belting out ‘Sonny Boy’ in his bath leaves him depressed. So does either a painting done by him or a banjolele recording not garnering a smiley. Often, I have to watch over him so as to check any suicidal tendencies arising in his bosom which, as we all know, is awash with the milk of human kindness.

I understand that user data gets routinely used to build models to predict user actions and companies retain user attention to maximize the profit from advertisements. The psychology of the individual is delicately profiled and then used to the hilt to generate revenue. Often, this would lead to increased depression and higher suicide rates, especially among those who lack nerves of chilled steel.

There are subtle changes being made to the P of the I, and these amount to our becoming zombies.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is disturbing, to say the least.

However, all is not lost. Example, in Wikipedia, we have a ray of hope. I believe that they continue to offer a neutral landscape for seeking information. 

Some rotten eggs in our basket of habits

We cannot whip up a delectable omelette by retaining some rotten eggs we carry in our behavioural baskets. These need to be promptly replaced by the ones laid by contented hens. The rotten ones can instead be put to better use to dissuade someone like Tuppy Glossop from rendering ‘Sonny Boy’ at his next appearance at one of the gigs organized by Beefy Bingham.

Some of you may recall the time when Mr Wooster had started entertaining the idea of having the prattle of tender feet around him. A trip to Brighton, followed by an address to a bevy of giggling young girls, made him drop the idea.

Likewise, any threat to us can be neutralized by using tact and resource. But what is also needed is a dash of will power and persistence.

I have brooded over this matter for some time now. I fancy I have a plan which may produce satisfactory results

My humble plan involves our developing habits of the following kind.

Getting rid of Commentitis

Overcoming the urge to either comment upon or getting involved in, some inane discussion on any of the social media platforms.

Shying away from Topicalitis

Learning to take a long-term view of things in life; not whipping up passions on something which is trending on social media and may get you only your 15 seconds of fame.

Avoiding recommended videos which are merely a ruse to keep you glued to a screen.

Doing away with Checkitis

Restricting the habit of frequently checking what is happening on the World Wide Web.

Cultivating Humouronia

Taking it easy, with a dash of humour. The virtual world is not the real world. A ‘like’ could be posted merely to be in your good books. A derogatory remark could be unpeeled to reveal invaluable feedback, or even to present an alternative perspective.

The perils of 5G and beyond

Discovering the environmental and behavioural perils of advanced technologies in the offing. Revenue-hungry governments would not be interested in your knowing these. Businesses chasing top and bottom lines could not care less.

Relishing the perks of Family Time

Having a budget for maximum screen time for yourself in a day. Set an example which others around you – especially kids – can follow. Spend more time with them. Encourage them to develop real relationships rather than virtual ones.

Do not pamper children by giving them access to smart phones which end up making them dumb. Allow social media use only after children reach high school.

Let all devices be out of the bedroom after a certain time; also, off the dining table during ‘family time’.

Sifting the wheat from the chaff

Building nerves of chilled steel to protect yourself, your family and your country from mischievous messages planted by media cells of governments and political parties to sway your opinion about things which really matter.

Looking for news feed from different platforms, even from the ones which oppose your own views and opinions. Trying and being objective about what you soak in.

Not forwarding unnecessary messages, even though these sound like ‘breaking news’ at the time.

Using search engines that do not keep a track of your searching history.

Checking your gadgets ruthlessly at least once a month. Remove all apps which you no longer use.

Working towards receiving minimum notifications.

Delivering satisfaction

I urge upon you to realize that we alone can stem this rot, whether individually or collectively. There is no messiah who is going to pop up and help us in this endeavour. We alone can stop the quivering of the foundations of our civilization.

Only then can we be assured of a life based on the premise of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, Truth and Peace.

Permit me to convey my gratitude for the patience with which you have listened to me. I do hope I have delivered some satisfaction!

 

(SPIN is a not-for-profit platform which advocates the cause of an unbiased social media and encourages users to refrain from indulging in narcissistic behavior when online.)

(This blog post is inspired by ‘The Social Dilemma’ a 2020 docudrama available on Netflix.)  

   

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/bertie-social-media-and-blogging-blues

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/bertie-jeeves-and-the-internet-of-things

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/the-delightful-variety-of-those-who-post-on-facebook-by-sriram-paravastu)

 

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ashokbhatia

Can we identify a God who can be beseeched to preside over our Internet-ional GaneshaAffairs?

In Hinduism, for example, we are exposed to a mind-boggling variety of divine manifestations. Down the long corridors of time, since the dawn of history, the Hindu pantheon has evolved with a multitude of deities.

The deities offer an eclectic mix – some are highly specialized whereas others are all-purpose ones. Some are removers of any obstacles that a seeker may face in life. Some grant better learning abilities and wisdom. Some bestow immense wealth and prosperity. Then we have the generalist trinity – one is said to have crafted the creation, one runs it smoothly like a true blue CEO while another destroys and reconstructs. The latter two intervene in human affairs as and when they deem it necessary.Ravi_Varma-Lakshmi

In fact, there is no sphere of life which has not been touched by some…

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Non-statutory warning

If you happen to have a pre-determined preference for any specific political outfit in India, you read this only at your own risk and peril. You may get miffed at some parts of this piece, albeit written with malice towards none.

 

Come election time, and the denizens of India forget all their miseries and have a rollicking time. With the biggest festival of democracy on its way, the pampering they receive makes them hopeful of their future yet again. Freebies, sackfuls of the green stuff and tissue restoratives of all kinds are made available in abundant measure. Dreams of the next round of good and secure days get dished out with much aplomb.

Politicos who have an eye on their power and pelf get busy computing their likely ‘returns on investment’ in a high risk game. The media barons enjoy supreme bliss at all the moolah they rake in, thanks to their TRP ratings reaching stratospheric levels. Almost all sectors of the economy experience a boom, what with hassled leaders nipping around all corners of the country.

One can readily spot a Roderick Spode who continues to hone his oratorical skills while peddling his deep commitment to the Cause. The gullible public dreads the day he invokes Shakespeare at the beginning of any of his speeches, addressing them as ‘Friends, countrymen….’ A team of devoted followers ensure that those in opposition keep getting hauled over coals over their acts of omission and commission, the latter term specifically alluding to some alleged scams in the past.

Aunt Dahlia can be seen quietly tucking into the lavish spreads of Anatole, while keeping an indulgent eye on the career moves of Bonzo. The latter, having learnt his lessons well from the Market Snodsbury Grammar School speech of Gussie, keeps pointing accusatory fingers at those of the other party. To boost his electoral prospects, his sister Angela Travers also pitches in. The jury is still out if she runs the risk of being bitten by any sharks – political or otherwise – on one of her river cruises.

The revolutionary pals who fail to recognize the new-age challenges facing their outdated ideology have their share of the fun by beating up policemen, burning buildings and vehicles, smashing shop-windows, and resorting to pressure tactics to get the clueless citizenry to cast their vote in favour of their party.

When the self-assured stuffed-frog charisma of an A B Filmer starts waning, his family members get deployed to keep the power closer to his saggy bosom. Likewise, the morally dubious character of several of the candidates can be seen to be built along the lines of either a Gregory Parsloe-Parsloe or an Edward Cootes. Many of them have criminal cases pending against them for crimes which exclude the pinching of an Empress of Blandings. The never-say-die spirit of several John Bickersdykes keeps the public guessing as to which political party they might end up joining next.

There is no dearth of aspirants who could beat Smooth Lizzie at her own game. Targeting the constituency of those who toil down the stairs – under-butlers, housekeepers, scullery maids, footmen, and the like – tall promises get dished out with much fervour.

Some of the candidates are cast in the mould of either a Ginger or a Stilton. They happen to be reluctant politicians, upon whom political ambition has been thrust by a no-nonsense family member.

Quite a few lion-tamers built along the lines of Rev Aubrey Upjohn can be seen carefully guarding their speeches, lest they get pinched by the opposition camp, leaving them literally speechless at public gatherings.

What boggles the mind of a lay voter is the kind of melange of politicos on the offer on the opposite side. If one were to devour the exploits of Bertie Wooster, Lord Emsworth, Rupert Psmith, Bingo Little, Madeline Bassett, Stiffy Byng and Aunt Agatha in rapid succession, one could be excused for experiencing a similar swimming sensation in the old cerebrum.

The not-so-pale parabola of joy

As the General Drama unfolds, the conduct of the country’s election watchdogs comes under the kind of severe scrutiny which would put a professional newt-fancier to shame. They keep burning the proverbial midnight oil to keep a track of the blatant violations of its Model Wooster Code, which is observed more in breach than in adherence. At times, where opposition parties are concerned, a Sam Goldwyn kind of aggressive approach is taken to address violations. As to the ruling dispensation, a Poppet like deferential approach often becomes the oportet actio.

Even the likes of Sir Watkyn Bassett, who might have by now risen to the highest echelons of judiciary, are not spared the trauma of being dragged into some controversy or the other, thereby distracting them from dishing out harsh sentences without the option.

Some specific shades of this parabola of joy are as under:

The Eulalie Effect

When the colours of an opponents’ underwear get mentioned as part of a political discourse.

The Angry Swan Syndrome

If the public is behaving like an irate swan, and it is raining accusations on several other fronts, it makes sense to climb to a safer roof top and take cover under the umbrella of a different issue altogether.

The Juice of an Orange Factor

Those who entertain thoughts of civil disobedience in any form routinely get pampered with patchwork incentives which are in the nature of the juice of an orange. These ensure that while fundamental issues do not get resolved, short-term solutions with a transient feel-good effect get worked upon. Rebellion is kept at bay.

Unfortunately, many Indians still survive only on a handful of rice and could indulge in acts of civil disobedience. However, since the Father of the Nation is no longer around, a leadership vacuum of his style – fans may recall that he never sat down to a good juicy steak and follow it up with roly-poly pudding and a spot of Stilton, as advised by one of the Hollywood producers – ensures that our political Dream Merchants may breathe easy.

The Peggy Rebuttal

If a voter cannot unnerve a speaker by simply staring and giggling at him, the option of watching the person land in a whirring helicopter, collecting one’s quota of freebies and leaving the place before the speech begins is always open.

The Gladys Spell

Empathizing with the vulnerable sections of the society and offering them protection from the Angus McAllisters of poverty, illness and unemployment just before the drum rolls start beating. This enables the Lord Emsworths of our times to make their ancestors singularly proud of them.

The Stiffy Byng Approach

In order to keep the opposition leaders on tenterhooks, central investigating agencies get unleashed upon them, much like a bunch of Bartholomews pouncing upon their next human prey. Supercilious gazes and raids apart, they keep sniffing with much alacrity at the latter, often making them climb up their cupboards storing some dark secrets , and then pull these up after them when they have done so.

The Psmith Skillset

In order to bring home the gravy in the form of political power, gangsters in the mould of Bat Jarvis get befriended. They even get encouraged to contest elections and romp home to the highest law-making body of the land.

The Schnellenhamer Track

Movie moghuls are encouraged to dish out flicks which support the ruling party’s agenda, leaving them relishing their place under the sun and also laughing all the way to their banks.

The Rosie M Banks Approach

Authors, editors, content creators and intellectual coves of all hues get hired to tom-tom the achievements of the political party sponsoring their outpourings.

Apparently apolitical interviews to adoring movie stars get used to showcase the softer side of political stars.

The Ashe Marson Effect

When politicos routinely display their exercising skills in prominent public spaces for the entire world to see, the cabmen, the waiters, the chambermaids, the proprietors of the fast food joints nearby, street cleaners, children and cats stop laughing after some time.

The Captain Bradbury Approach

Love for their motherland makes some of the candidates take this approach. It involves invoking the armed forces, the nuclear weapons and such other strong arm tactics which one would prefer to see in a street brawl instead.

The Chivalry Challenge

When the game of naming and shaming one of the female candidates starts, all notions of chivalry vanish. A competition as to who can stoop lower starts in right earnest. A wager on the outcome could remind one of the betting records set by The Great Sermon Handicap.

The Bobby Wickham Technique

Taking a leaf out of the conduct of Bobby Wickham who pitted John Hamilton Potter and Clifford Gandle against each other so as to secure her spinsterhood, politicos have already perfected the art of dividing the society along religion and caste fault lines, thereby securing their respective vote banks.

The Alfred Mulliner Magic Trick

When data becomes a liability, either suppress it, or hire some smart statisticians who might perform the magic of concocting another version which could be unleashed on the unsuspecting public.

If votes are getting recorded in some contraptions of an electronic kind, hire experts to find out the feasibility of tinkering with the same.

The Digital Sharks

These are the unsung digital warriors who have learnt their art of being conscientious from The Efficient Baxter. They keep churning out all kinds of stuff: The Flattering and Deceiving kind, as also the Outright Derogatory kind. Hundreds of millions of voters who are glued to their smart screens take these for gospel truths and unwittingly decide the destiny of the country, handing over the reins to a government they deserve!

The Amusement Quotient

Gullible denizens can be excused for believing that all politicians are as different as chalk and cheese. Nothing could be more misleading. Their means might appear to be different, but their goals are not. Irrespective of their affiliation, they chase the goal of grabbing and retaining power. If they cannot be kings, they aspire to be king-makers.

They live in a fish bowl. Whatever they say or do should appeal to their constituents. Their private lives have to bear the strictest investigation. Their sources of funds have to be kept under wraps. When it comes to their misdemeanours, the media has to be kept at an arm’s length.

With each election, the level of the political discourse keeps deteriorating. But the Amusement Quotient keeps improving, bringing much-needed succour to the Common Man facing the harsh slings and arrows of Life.

(Illustration on top courtesy Suvarna Sanyal, a retired banker who has an eye and an ear for all there is to see, listen to and laugh at in this world.

Caricature of Mahatma Gandhi  by R K Laxman)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/18/how-about-promoting-election-tourism

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/politicos-in-plumsville-part-1

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/delightful-characters-of-the-canine-kind-in-plumsville)

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Netizens who happen to be on Facebook come in different sizes, shapes, hues and ethnicities. Their value systems, personalities, mentalities and quirkiness quotients form a captivating rainbow of humanity. The psychology of the individual varies for all. So do their posts.

Even though the Posters and the Postees on Facebook are merely prisoners of their own individual psychologies, one can discern broad patterns in their behaviour. Some are compulsive Posters who consider a day wasted if they are not able to pass by their Facebook account. Others are casual by temperament and saunter in occasionally, sharing something on their timeline and then getting busy with the mundane affairs of their lives. Many others, who form but a minority, create an account and then blissfully forget all about it.

(The term Poster here refers to those who post on Facebook. The term Postee alludes to the hapless souls who have no choice but to go through it in their daily feed.)

If Rupert Psmith (of P G Wodehouse fame) were to endeavour to classify different kinds of Posters normally found on this social media platform, the results may be somewhat along the following lines.

  1. The Conscientious Poster

The Poster posts something of genuine interest to many, gets beefed up by the number of ‘likes’ and comments received, and a healthy discussion ensues.

If the Postees happen to be chasing their own dreams in life and no ‘likes’ and comments ensue, the Poster is likely to get into a V-shaped depression which takes some time to wear off.

Such bouts of depression are not dissimilar to the kind of traumatic phases Lord Emsworth passes through when the Empress of Blandings starts refusing her daily dose of nourishment.

The popularity and longevity of a post depends on many factors: (a) Contemporary relevance of the topic, (2) The time at the disposal of the Postees, (3) The degree to which the topic is controversial, and (4) Whether the Poster keeps responding to the steady stream of comments pouring in.

  1. The Ghost Poster

The Postee gets a notification from someone like Stiffy Byng on her friends’ list providing a link to something which interests the Postee. However, upon visiting the link, the Postee finds the item alluded to missing, much like a fakir of yore doing his vanishing trick.

Perhaps the administrators, in their infinite wisdom, decided to dump the link, deeming it to be inappropriate for civilization at large.

  1. The Detached Poster

Such Posters follow the advice dished out by Lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita. They merely exercise their right to post things which, in their opinion, could interest the hoi polloi. They do not crave for any results from such posts. Having posted, they move on to perform other duties in their lives, only to return with yet another post. ‘Likes’ and comments on their posts are none of their concerns. They post in the true spirit of a detached soul. They happen to be true practitioners of renunciation.

  1. The Share-a-Crap Poster

Some people are in the habit of unleashing every single thing they find in their notification upon all the unsuspecting persons on their friends’ list, leaving many of the Postees twiddling their thumbs trying to figure out the rationale of such posts. Many of them, particularly those who believe in the power of introspection, start wondering as to what they have done to deserve the honour of receiving such inane posts.

  1. The Political Garbage Poster

Nowadays there are many arm-chair political analysts who keep posting their political opinions disguised as deep analyses about everything happening on either the national or the international stage. They keep unleashing unwarranted garbage of all kind on the clueless Postees, while themselves living in a delusional bubble of superior knowledge and analytical stills on matters in which they have no real responsibility of their own. It is a superb exercise in flattering the fledgling ego of the Poster.

Come election time and such posts further heighten the decibel level of the kind of rhetoric and jingoism which is sometimes made to look like hyper nationalism. Roderick Spode would heartily approve.

The presence or absence of ‘Likes’ and comments on their posts fail to dampen their enthusiasm; they keep posting relentlessly on matters of national and international geopolitics.

  1. The Religious Rowdy Poster

The Posters of such posts forward photos of some benevolently smiling God over Himalayas or a boon-granting Goddess with the backdrop of a jungle, both clearly a result of some clever photo-shopping. The hapless Postees are then threatened with dire consequences if they fail to share forward the post within 3 seconds of having set their eyes on it.

The fate of Postees who do follow such instructions is not known; what is certain, however, is that such chain-posts do keep the Facebook guys and the internet service providers laughing all the way to their respective banks.

When the same Poster keeps posting about the same God most of the times, he willy-nilly ends up offending the Gods left out, who take a jaundiced view of the proceedings. The risk of inviting their collective wrath keeps going up with each offending post.

  1. The Sympathy-gainer Posters

These are Posters who follow the rules of commerce laid down by Ukridge. They have perfected the art of playing with the Postees’ heart-strings. Emotional blackmail of this kind could take the shape of either a blood-smeared kid or an IV lined ICU patient whose photo is posted, claiming that Facebook gives them One rupee for every ‘Like’, Five Rupees for every Share and 10 Rupees for a comment. Some posts even try and touch the wallets of the gullible Postees.

One can be certain that poor Mark Zuckerberg has enough troubles on his plate other than facing the prospect of going bankrupt thus.

  1. The Narcissist Poster

In the universe of this brand of Posters, God is always in heaven. There is never a problem in sight. The sun never sets. Rain never plays a spoil sport.

Hourly updates concerning themselves, their families and friends, their pets, their escapades in life and anything that happens to them under the sun keep popping up at such regularity as to put even atomic clocks to shame.

It is common to find an apparently loving wife posting an anniversary greeting to her equally apparently loving husband; fathers greeting their sons on their birthdays, even when both are living under the same roof, and doting daughters wishing their mother on her birthday, etc.

The underlying belief obviously is that love for their near and dear ones needs to be expressed publically and not in private; that public approval of a private sentiment is necessary.

Imagine Bobby Wickham having access to Facebook. In order to get her mother to approve of her intentions of walking down the aisle with Reginald “Kipper” Herring, all she has to do is to announce her feigned plan of marrying Bertie Wooster on her timeline, accompanied by a selfie of herself and her mentally negligible fiancée beaming happily together at an exotic locale.

Under this category, there exist several sub-categories of Posters.

a. The Foodie (Bakasura) Posters, who post photos of what and where they are eating at any point in time.

Fast food joints like McDonalds’ and CCD just love such Posters, though it is not clear why they don’t offer freebies to such promotional creatures. For all the Postees care, they could be swallowing some form of poison or the other.

After all, drooling over the snaps of a 32 course meal dished out by a local Anatole is injurious to the lining of the stomach of any of the Postees who might already be suffering under strict instructions from their physicians and better halves to lay off the succulent variety of vitamins.

b. The Travelling Posters, who keep posting photos of their national or international sojourns, thereby keeping not only airlines, hotels and other service providers but even robbers back home in brisk business.

The destination as well as the mode of travel is often highlighted so as to make the Postees green with envy.

Often, the Posters forget that one is permitted to catch a flight or a train without having to compulsorily post it on Facebook. Sure enough, they believe in the sage counsel from Jeeves – that travel is highly educational.

c. The Emotional Posters: They could be feeling sad or elated at some event and would post a soulful quote of a famous poet or lyricist. They simply forget that when they cry, the Postees are not interested in sharing their bad fortune. Yes, some might make sympathetic noises. Also, when they laugh, quite a few may join in, but are not enthused enough to get out on the street and shake a leg or two.

  1. The Thoughtless Posters

It is a sad commentary on the kind of times we live in when we find that even terrorists decide to become tech-savvy Posters.

Gullible Postees who act like headless chickens, lose no time in becoming Posters themselves, thereby giving instant publicity and wide coverage to such heinous acts.

The case for a Social Media Detox

Some posts are amusing and anecdotal in nature. Some are entertaining. Few are educational. Quite a few are inane and eminently forgettable. But a vast majority of the posts basically share information about happier occurrences in the lives of a Poster with the Postees in their circle of friends and acquaintances.

Those who have become addicted to social media are more to be pitied than to be censured. Rather than using a platform like Facebook as a useful tool in life, they have opted to become its slaves.

Perhaps, there is a strong case for more of such hapless souls to join SPIN, the Society for Prevention of Internet Narcissism! Or, taking up an internet de-addiction course offered by the Droitgate Spa!!

(Note: Sriram Paravastu is an ex-Indian Air Force professional. When he decides to take a dig at some of our social ills, he uses the laser beam of a soldier-like discipline and precision to carpet bomb the issue at hand.

This blog post is penned by him. Yours truly is guilty of having taken quite a few liberties with his original text.

Illustrations are courtesy Suvarna Sanyal, a retired banker who has an eye and an ear for all there is to see, listen to and laugh at in this world.)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-who-is-the-smartest-of-them-all

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/the-droitgate-spa-now-offers-net-detoxification-programs)

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ashokbhatia

Ever imagined living in a fairy land where all those you happen to know are smart, living their lives to the hilt? They could be visiting exotic locales, celebrating career achievements and other events in their lives, or simply having a blast. The sun is always shining, the flowers are forever in bloom, the birds are incessantly twittering and the bees are invariably busy collecting nourishment from delicate flowers. In other words, God is always in heaven and all is well with the world.internet image 1

In this land, the sky is never overcast. The harsh arrows and slings of life simply do not exist. No one ever falls sick. A business loss or a career setback never appears on the horizon. There are no villains around. Parents find that kids throw no tantrums. All denizens behave in an exemplary fashion. Everybody likes everybody else. Spirits are all buoyed up, what with…

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The Droitgate Spa is well known for its detoxification programs for curing such ailments as gouty foots, asthma, liver troubles, telangiectasis, emotional dermatitis, hyperpyrexia and also in handling all kinds of stretcher cases.

The Spa announces the commencement of some specialized capsules aimed at the weary-eyed denizens who, even as they confess to being held prisoners amongst the multitude of screens in our technology-driven times, inwardly wish to be free from the tyranny of their technical gizmos.

The courses on offer are also ideal for netizens who are addicted to various social media platforms but do not relish the attendant loss of their privacy. These would enable a participant to learn to ‘switch off’ from their virtual worlds at will and concentrate instead on connecting with their real family and friends.

Capsules on offer

Getting rid of Commentitis

To overcome the need for commenting upon, and getting involved in, some inane discussion on any of the social media platforms.

Shying away from Topicalitis

Learn to take a long-term view of things in life; avoid whipping up passions on something which is trending on social media and may get you only your 15 seconds of fame.

Doing away with Checkitis

Learning how to restrict the habit of frequently checking what is happening on the World Wide Web.

Cultivating Humouronia

Taking it easy, with a dash of humour. The virtual world is not the real world. A ‘like’ could be posted merely to be in your good books. A derogatory remark could be unpeeled to reveal invaluable feedback, or even to present an alternative perspective.

A booster shot of Vitamin I

An innovative Idea is what the weary netizen looks out for. Learn to whip up and unleash some such ideas on the unsuspecting public and derive some real satisfaction.

The perils of 5G and beyond

Discover the environmental and behavioural perils of advanced technologies in the offing. Revenue-hungry governments would not be interested in your knowing these. Businesses chasing top and bottom lines could not care less.

Sifting the wheat from the chaff

Building nerves of chilled steel to protect yourself, your family and your country from mischievous messages planted by media cells of governments and political parties to sway your opinion about things which matter.

Getting kids disinterested in the virtual world

Tactics for changing Wi-Fi passwords without displeasing kids and ensuring an internet-free time slot at home is one aspect which gets covered in this module. Charging them up for building real relationships with those they come in contact with and encouraging them for outdoor activities also get covered. The capsule is based entirely on the psychology of the individual.

Becoming a Certified WWW Scout

Net-savvy girls and boys who wish to follow in the footsteps of Edwin the Boy Scout in an age driven by Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things can get specialized training and start benign online campaigns to:

(a) Persuade their respective governments to provide their citizens an open web which respects their rights,

(b) Enthuse businesses to make sure that the web is not only safe but also accessible and affordable,

(c) Get all the concerned to ensure adequate protection of user data.

Background Note

The management of Droitgate Spa is of the considered view that our poor minds are now surrounded by a continuous stream of information. Commerce determines content. Aesthetes do the window dressing. Governments monitor it.

In other words, reality for most of us is now nothing but a simulation.  Our social conscience has started changing for the worse, ignoring fact, reality and truth. We no longer have the time or the patience to burrow deep and ferret out the truth. Thus, we keep ourselves cocooned in our comfort zones.

The capsules mentioned above have been designed to buck this trend.

Details

  • Each capsule being launched now has been designed by an eminent panel of experts, including Mr Joseph Boffin, Dr Sally Smith, Sir Aylmer Bastable and Sir Roderick Glossop.
  • As to capsules targeted at the younger lot, Mr Reginald Jeeves and Master Thos shall be conducting the sessions.
  • Duration could be either for a week or for a weekend, depending upon the needs of the applicant. The Scout Certification course is a weekend program spread over 12 weeks.
  • Custom-designed capsules could be offered to corporates who intend to make bulk bookings.
  • Participation Certificates are issued in association with the Royal Academy of Goofy Technologies.
  • The capsules get delivered in a pristine environment where nature can be experienced at its very best. Wi-Fi shall not be provided. Use of cell phones, tablets and laptops during the proceedings is sneered at.
  • Romantic affairs of the relatives of participants are best handled off-campus.

For further details, please visit www.droitgate.org.

(Image courtesy http://www.pexels.com)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/12/16/a-plummy-workshop-on-emerging-technologies-courtesy-the-international-league-of-happiness

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/bertie-jeeves-and-the-internet-of-things

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/bertie-social-media-and-blogging-blues

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/12/08/bertie-social-media-and-blogging-blues

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/mirror-mirror-on-the-wall-who-is-the-smartest-of-them-all)

 

 

 

 

 

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ashokbhatia

I extended my hand from under the blanket, and rang the bell for Jeeves. Promptly, he shimmered in, with one of hisPGW HughLaurie-BertieWooster pick-me-ups on a silver salver.

‘Good evening, Jeeves.’

‘Good morning, sir.’

‘Is it morning?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘But it seems pretty gloomy and dark outside,’ I said.

‘Winter is already upon us, sir. In the depth of winter, we learn that within us lies an invincible summer, sir.’

‘Shakespeare, Jeeves?’

‘Albert Camus, sir.’

I sipped the tissue restorative in a mood of quiet repose.

‘Well, what goes on in the great world?’

‘There are several messages for you on WhatsApp, sir. On Facebook, you have messages from Mr. Gussie Fink-Nottle, Ms. Florence Craye and Ms. Stiffy Byng. Aunt Dahlia wants to chat with you over Skype. A blogger oninternet image 1 WordPress desires to have an audience with you. On LinkedIn, Sir Watkyn Bassett wishes to connect with you. Several tweets…

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Your every ping

Makes my heart sing

 

A chat a day

Keeps blues away

 

Through emoticon

The heart is won

 

Your status update

Could seal my fate

 

Your profile pix

Is a heady mix

 

Of hot and sweet

I follow your tweet

 

And WhatsApp too

I follow you

 

On the Facebook

It is no fluke

 

That (your) every post

I like the most

 

On mails we chat

Of this and that

 

Until at last

Oh! Meet we must

 

Then I awake

Your profiles fake!

 

And all your pings

Of sweet nothings

 

Went out en masse

Alack! Alas!

 

My pal, my bro, my boss, my dad!

All got them, we’ve all been had!

 

And if all this has taught something,

Never ever trust a BBM ping.

(Soumya Mukherjee is an alumnus of St Stephens College and Delhi School of Economics. He earns his daily bread by working for a PSU Insurance company, and lectures for peanuts. His other passions, family, friends, films, travel, food, trekking, wildlife, music, theater, and occasionally, writing. He has been published in many national newspapers of repute. He has published his first novel, Memories, a novella, hopefully, the first of his many books. He blogs as well.

His permission to re-post this composition is gratefully acknowledged. It can also be found at http://www.differenttruths.com/literature/poems/ode-to-social-media)

 

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