Lost in the ‘likes’
What if you have to travel from Point A to some Point B; a completely new destination; a path you have never traversed before; an uncharted territory. How would you navigate? What if you can’t see the complete map at once i.e. you could only see your current whereabouts or may be fifty meters around you. How would you navigate? What if every crossroad you come across, you see a sign board with an extra attribute – the number of likes; every bill board, hoarding have number of likes linked to them. What are the chances that you will reach where ever you want to reach?
These what ifs would start making sense as soon as you imagine the journey to be your life. Point A would be your birth and you could choose Point B as you deem appropriate, be it your retirement or your death or lets say 70 years of age. We find ourselves standing at crossroads more than we expect and they keep on getting complex as we grow old. Do I take Science or Commerce? I took Science and ended up at a more critical crossroad. Do I take Electronics or Electronics and Communication or IT or CS or any other? You would have also seen a lot of cross roads in your life. How did you choose the path?
In the beginning most of us simply follow our parents, friends, which is why navigating through the life is not difficult at all. I slept like a baby till the time I was not taking the decisions myself. But once I flew away from my nest, decision making turned out to be the most annoying, daunting and exhaustive task.
Who or what do you rely on while making decisions? Only one in a million would know by default as to what he/she has to do in his/her life. They are like Sachin Tendulkar or Mark Zuckerberg but the rest, they are like me, they rely on external world to set their goals.
If I am not mistaken, everyone rely on books, research papers, current affairs ‘news’, internet, reviews, blogs etc. They constitute a small world of their own within the real world; a virtual world. What happens when you realize that this virtual world although somehow connected to the real world is strangely far away from the reality? Would taking cues from such a world affect the choices you make? What happens when the choices not only affect some lives but the entire society, a community or a nation?
Everybody in the virtual world is “equal”, Men and women are equal; all children are equal. However, in the real world, after a causal “fling”, a boy might get some STD but a girl might get some STD and an unwanted pregnancy. And even in the best case scenario, a guy participates only in the fun part, but the girl, in the fun part as well as in the difficult and painful part i.e. giving birth to a new life. Some how the risks, efforts and pain don’t look equal to me. Do they look equal to you?
The rules of genetics don’t apply in the virtual world but they sure do in the real world. A child born to not so smart or talented parents is way behind his counterpart born to smart and talented parents, he would run into situations that the latter kid would never be able to imagine. I am not saying he would never achieve more than his counterpart, all I am saying is that he would have to put a lot more efforts. People in the virtual world behave like magnets, where opposite attracts. However, in the real world, people behave like birds where the ones with the same feathers flock together.
This is why castes, clans or any other groupings are considered social evils on the internet. People with different professions adopted different lifestyles and hence become part of different groups. Castes in Indian society were nothing but the representations of these groups. In the virtual world all the jobs are same, but in real world, unskilled, menial jobs pay less, not only in India but everywhere in the world. That is where reservation came into play; hurling people from unskilled jobs to skilled jobs, however, unfortunately without expecting any extra efforts (in getting ready for new skills) from the candidates. If no job was ‘small’ or meaningless, you wouldn’t ask for reservation in the real world. Would you?
Yes, India is a free nation and no body should be discriminated on the basis of castes. For this laws and rules are already in place. If those laws are not followed, it is a law and order problem and not a social problem.
You talk highly of kids in the virtual world, but you see them as ‘chotus‘ waiting your tables or begging in the real world. You talk about porn and nudity openly in the virtual world, but sex work is still illegal in a lot of parts of the real world and especially in India. People wish mother’s day and father’s day in the virtual world and send their parents to old age homes in the real world. If not, then why are old age homes in India sprouting like mushrooms? May be because taking responsibility comes in the way of Individualism, a virtual world trait (you do what you want to do).
People in the real world are taking cues from the virtual world, whereas the better way would have been for the virtual world to take the cues from the real world. But what is the reason behind this huge difference between the virtual world and the real world?
The virtual world is manipulated by the “likes”. When I talk about “likes”, I am not talking about the likes as a reactive phenomenon i.e. the appreciation or applause that a person receives after doing something. I am talking about the likes as a proactive phenomenon i.e. doing something keeping in mind the appreciation or applause a person might receive later or thinking about the likeability of the work beforehand.
The content in the virtual world is created and promoted to make the creators “Popular”, “trending”, “best seller”, or help them get “a million hits”, it does not have to be in sync with the real world.
Bollywood has been creating content for the “likes” for decades and they openly own it. They gave it a name “Commercial Cinema”, which is just a collection of “Item Songs” plus Sex scenes minus creativity. Netflix and Chill might be a new fad, Indians have been doing Bollywood and Chill for decades now. Of course there are excellent Bollywood movies too, but there number is comparatively quite small.
The worrisome part is that this method of creating content has now made its way into other disciplines; be it advertising industry, or sports or news world or even book writing.
Do you think the cricket biggies who sit in studios and make their comments did not foresee India’s defeat in the recent ICC Cricket World cup? They sure did, but they didn’t say anything. Why? If they would have said “Team India is not in a good shape”, would people buy tickets for the game? I guess not! Revenue!!!
We already saw the reality of Indian news reporting ecosystem. Do you really think they did not foresee BJP’s clear majority in the 2019 general elections? They were well aware of the reality, but the fact is mob lynchings in the name of cows creates a better TRP then Cow Smuggling. Undeclared emergency, rising intolerance, minority cruelties, EVM hacking and other things like these were to keep the “naive” consumers bolted to their screens. TRPs!
Authors have gone to an extent where they have started manipulating facts. How did Ashoka become “the great” in the nineteenth century? Because if one mass murderer can be “great” then Akbar can also be great and so can Aurangzeb. It would seem logical that mass murders were common in the past. A political masterstroke!
Authors have started altering Indian Mythologies. For instance, a very popular mythologist writes facts which he created on his own. While talking about the characters of Mahabharata he writes “Pandu begged Kunti to have more than five children, however, Kunti refused as it was only possible to have five children with that Mantra” or “Yudhishthar liked Draupadi and which is why he sent Arjun away for a year so that he gets to spend more time with Draupadi“. There are a lot of other instances where he added his pervert thoughts in the name of his interpretations of the great Indian epics. I know these are not true because I grew up listening to the stories about Mahabharata from my parents and grandparents. Their version of story does not match with this particular author but does match with a lot of other texts available.
Political bloggers instead of trying to fix this, made the situation even worse. They chose sides and promoted the content of the creators on their side. They got a perfectly conditioned reader base. India lost the game and the cricket “close” watchers still don’t see the problem with the playing XI. The political bloggers still don’t see how BJP managed a clear majority.
This method of creating content in the virtual world to get likes and upvotes lead to standards so different and so high in the virtual world that the newer generations or the millennial kids simply fail to achieve. Nobody achieves them. That’s why people show off. They want to be cool but they don’t know what is considered cool. They want to be successful but they have no clue as to how. The virtual world shows you one in a million college dropouts who became big, the real world shows you million other dropouts who ended up broke.
The virtual world gloats at the success of one Sunny Leone but the real world shows you a million girls who started living their lives “on their terms” as she did and ended up exploited by not some but many. The virtual world gives you a sense of entitlement, makes you believe in the shortcuts for instantaneous success. The real world on the other hand, decimates all these and leaves you lost, frustrated and depressed. We have a generation of kids who are forced to live with an inferiority complex for no mistake of their own. This is one of the reasons why the rate of suicides among the youth is increasing every year.
The deep chasm between the real India and the virtual India is nothing but a valley of depression.
It does not matter if Mahabharata or Ramayana actually happened or not, but it is a fact that the stories from the two epics help build a strong character. They give us a way to differentiate right from wrong. May be now we would realize one of the Lord Krishna’s teachings “Do your duty and don’t worry about the results” Content creators today think about the results first and then start doing their duty. That’s why all the mess.
People of my generation or after me are going to face a lot of difficulties in raising kids in the right way. We don’t remember the stories by heart, we would have to read them to our kids and finding the correct ones would be like finding a needle in a haystack.
In the large pile of data, how do I know what is to be trusted and what is not to be trusted? Since I can’t stop time, even though I know might be lost, I continue to move forward. Where ever this “forward” takes me!
Thanks for reading!
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An FPGA/Embedded Systems Development Engineer working on ADAS / Autonomous Vehicles and interested in Indian Politics.