July 17, 2011

Commercialization of Grief !

It was very disheartening to hear about yet another terrorist attack in our financial capital Mumbai. The long reprieve from such attacks was short-lived atlas. The media was very fast in taking up the issue and started their usual rhetoric of assumptions, allegations, counter allegations etc. The usual cast of actors was playing their role well in the pre-set stage, grief anger and vengeance was encapsulated and sold to the masses. Scroll down text presuming to be authentic and update news played with our nerves.

Then they started their usual interviews of the witnesses, busy policeman eager to present their version of the story etc. It doesn’t stop there they loiter around the crime scene and make investigation a cumbersome process for the police. There was a convention agreed upon between the media and the security forces after the diabolic 26/11 attacks that media will not tread into the crime scene and destroy evidence or act as mouth pieces of the terrorist by publicising and exaggerating the crime. But all these was thrown into the wind and you see earnest anchors trespassing into the crime scene. We are already at the disadvantaged position with our lack of credible information sources and out-d

dated machinery and the invisibility of the enemy; this over reach of the media further worsens our scope of investigation.

Grief like any other human emotion is avery personal one. The media by exploiting it for their requirement is doing a crime against humanity. By encapsulating grief into 30 second clips they are commercializing grief and we end up as mute spectators to their tamasha. With every attack they follow the same procedure like they have a Standard operating procedure (SOP) to be followed under such circumstances. Like they have to look for gruesome bloody scenes to show in the screen, like they have to find an aggravated common man angry at the system, to show the victims of earlier attacks and reminding their loved ones about their loss. Loss of a loved one cannot be justified and replicated under any circumstances, why do they have to reminded about their loss and exposing their grief unnecessarily.

I’m whole heartedly grieving for the death of the blast victims and the lives destroyed and injuries survived by the 100's of its victims, but are we giving an undue prominence for terrorist attacks and deaths caused by it, in the same week we have had a devastating Train accident (which is assumed to be resulted by an IED explosion) and another wedding party accident at alevel crossing which killed a score of people. The death in both these cases were substantially more and the damage more gruesome and devastating.

Terrorist attacks are not a normal day to day event in our country unlike for our neighbour Pakistan, Like Rahul Gandhi said we have been able to thwart 99 % of the attacks but unfortunately one escapes our vigilance. You can’t tell this to someone who has lost a loved one, their loss cannot be offset with all the political gyan and intellectual analysis seen in the media. But it is true we have been able to control the menace of regular attacks to alarge extend. It was not long ago when we had regular attacks in every nook and corner of the country and resembled a war zone, listed in the red zone of no travel in the diplomatic circle.

Our media has got a special attraction towards portraying terrorist attacks, the business of selling organised grief to the masses. We have to also agree that the masses are a big consumer for grief, look at the headlines of newspapers for last one month or news bulletins in tv you will be surprised to see the extend of bad news (packaged grief, anger and pain) present in them. It is interesting to know that there is a term to describe this feeling: Schadenfreude Pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune. More people die every day dude to preventable causes, more infants are aborted, more unborn girl child are maimed every day in our country, but that doesn't sell like grief packaged as bomb attacks.

Meanwhile our political leaders have started their usual ploy of blaming pakistan and concluding role of banned outfits in the attack. The congress alleges that since the home ministry of the state is under the control of NCP it could not act in advance (rubbish), the opposition alleging the timidity of the central government, the coalition partners expressing their helplessness. In the midst of all these capsule grievance sharing statement send by world leaders arrive regularly, like it means anything to the victims or will help in fighting this menace.

It was interesting to see how the social medial i.e facebook and twitter reacted and constructively helped the victims and survivors. Within not time The mumbai attack was trending on twitter (though no idea how such things can trend !) and information for contacting police and helpline numbers to locate victims were being shared. And it was for the first time that a spreadsheet listing people who are willing to help, donate blood, provide transportation, provide accommodation food for the victims and stranded were being shared in the social media. Unlike their peers in the mass media, social media has matured to avoid rumor's like Kasabs birthday and aggravating the masses. lets hope that this trend continues and the social media plays a constructive role in the future also.

I know the thought process is hay wire in this post; it’s mainly due to the anger and grief towards our indifference.


July 13, 2011

There is nothing social about Social Networking anymore !

I have realized that if i keep writing about women empowerment and inclusive growth most of my friends will empower themselves to include me in the non-inclusive list (block list) very soon. And to be frank i am not so much in favour of these topics either. So i have decided to write something on a lighter note.

When i got back to Facebook after the self-imposed exile of six months, i realized nothing has changed. For starters i had to run through all the friend requests i had ignored off late. Sort out my friends, add my acquaintances to the friends list, add more people because you have common friends with them. Facebook has become paranoid about increasing my friend list it keeps suggesting friends with 1/2/3//10 common friends, i came across someone with whom i had a hundred common friends yet had no clue who it is.

All the silly game requests remains for a change all the farmers have left and new urban settlers have started popping their heads. Nothing has changed with respect to status updates and video link sharing. It’s funny to see someone sharing their anger and pain on their updates and people queuing up to Like it. I wish Facebook could include Unlike button or even an option of Disgusting which could be the only response to some posts.

I just realised i have 450 + people on my friend list and it’s a big number when i hardly know many of them. This list includes my school mates, college mates, colleagues of earlier jobs, teachers, uncles, aunts, sisters, cousins, neighbours, people whom i have no clue about etc. It’s a big puddle of senseless relationships. And i start to think when i put up something, who all are going to read this, what will they think about me. And being the quintessential hypocrite i fear to shed the masks i wear in different occasions and venues. Iam sure my long lost schoolmate who has migrated to north America and my friendly neighbour who idles away his time will have nothing in common, they don’t get the same jokes, neither do they comprehend the same languages.

Then there is the part where some idiotic friend with an old grudge will upload an old photograph in which i might have resembled a Precambrian primitive and start commenting about how stupid i looked then (nothing much has changed till now though) and the people i work with in front of whom i act polished and put up a fake accent catches me on the wrong foot. Iam sure iam not the only one who have had weird photos uploaded and teased about. Then there are the set of friends who pass comments and share thoughts in the local language which is as good as Greek or Latin or worse for some of my other friends, which makes me the translator in waiting. It is hard to convince my Hindi speaking friend about what my friend talks about (the salt mango tree syndrome).

Facebook developers have to urgently do something to segregate friends into as many possible sets to maintain the divide. Maybe something like an additional tab provision in new generation browsers that will cascade the friend list into different segments. So that my manager need not know that iam looking for ideas to give reasons to bunk office, or my family need not know about the secret road trip plan. If this continues there will be nothing social about social networking anymore.

And add to this the problem of envying friends holidaying in exotic locales, with their inverted photographs. It’s actually annoying to see that when you are slogging your ass you see your idiotic batch mate sun bathing and idling away. Add to all this new websites soliciting your presence in their new unique network, it’s like the snobbish hero in all his new movie interviews brags about the story being different and ends upto be the same stale dish.

In-spite of all this there is nothing as addictive or compulsive as social networking, a good friend put it up well, Facebook is like a fridge you keep opening to see if there is any new goodies. I have decided to take another exit from social networking maybe soon, but this is for sure, ill really miss all the senseless hype and action.