Thursday, 27 November 2014

Gullible's (Indians) Travails

Last week was a landmark week for Indian Christians, or I would say for all Indians. Two Indians were anointed with Sainthood by the Vatican. Yet the Papal office overlooked some other great contenders for Sainthood. And why blame just the Vatican? So did the Shahi Imam, who was too busy anointing and appointing his own flesh and blood to religious fiefdom. So did the other fiefs of other religions, who were horrified just looking at the goings-on at one such fiefdom: "Satlok" of "Sant Rampal". Saint"hood"?!

And so Facebook and WhatsApp missed their official Sainthood. Now what makes them prime candidates for such an elevation from the ranks of ordinary mortals? Of course, their extraordinary powers, which were not earned at the Hogwarts School. And, hence, remain beyond the realm of explanation. Even the Vatican requires proof and illustrations of extraordinary powers of the contemplated Saints. So here I present a case for Sainthood for Facebook and WhatsApp.

1. Turning Bread to Stone.  Yes, even the Almighty could only turn stone to bread. But our candidates can even turn bread to stone. Numerous posts and messages are in circulation, which try to find innovative explanations for formation of stones in the gall bladder, kidneys, or wherever they want. The explanations invariably lie in the consumption of food, like tomatoes, spinach, blah-blah-blah, and of course bread. And history will one day correct itself for labeling Marie Antoinette a monster. You see, she actually wanted to save the bourgeoisie by preempting them from consuming bread, and replacing it with artery-clogging cake. At least she didn't want them "stoned"!

2. Promoting the belief that Man love Man. And I'm not talking "Yaarana" or the H-word. What I mean is that Facebook and WhatsApp have turned all users into philanthropists. Everyone. Any message or post which even remotely refers to human health and cure for diseases, is promptly forwarded. Without even being read, i.e. Naturally, who has the time to read long posts and messages? Not the ones who forward messages in bulk when they could have made a personal call, at least to a few. If only such virtual philanthropy actually translated into real common good, alas! 

3. Miracle Cures. O yes. There is a miracle cure for everything. From Cancer to Constipation. Turmeric, lime juice, lemon juice, karela juice.......anything that can be juiced. Or not. And studies quoted in support? None!! Miracles cannot be scientifically explained, can they? So no questions asked. Juice Do It!!

4. Producing mass hysteria. Pictures taken in one part of the world have been found to cause riots in another unrelated part of the world. All because some people chose to manipulate public sentiment in a place, which had their vested interests, by forwarding morphed versions of these pics to show how a particular community or society was being persecuted. 

5. Producing mass hypnosis. And the PR machinery of the powerful and the wealthy have been using this particular aspect of Facebook and WhatsApp to their hearts' content, or maybe pockets' contents. A particular industrial house, which was found with its hands inside the 2G till, and which had pockets, and pockets of influence, deep enough to affect ministerial berths, keeps promoting its owner as a visionary all over social media. And people lap it all up. A man on trial for running over homeless pavement dwellers, has a court hearing on Nov 24. His so-called "adopted" sister gets married amidst a media blitzkreig on Nov 18. The functions run close to Nov 24. And two days before the trial, people enthusiastically forward a message which claims that the man on trial "adopted" a pavement dweller's daughter as his "sister" and spent crores on her lavish wedding. People laud this, without any proof. And what is unbelievable is that people laud the wastage of crores of Rupees in a wedding feast - the same crores that could have fed an entire village of needy people for days! 

6.  Transforming non-believers into believers. The whole concept of Modern Medicine sprang forth from the well-founded mistrust that the Medicine Man had of the medicine man. The former being the pioneers of modern Medicine and the latter being the village quack. Yet it is actually an amazing feat of modern technology that Facebook and WhatsApp are making Doctors forget what they have spent precious years of their lives in trying to learn - modern Medicine. So it defies all logic, the phenomenon of doctors forwarding messages and endorsing posts which are against all principles of modern medical research. "Prolonged use of sanitary napkins causes uterine cancer" : and we all thought that the cause for uterine cancer was still unknown! Only co-existing factors had been identified.....!!

7. Empowering women. Any woman who spends time on Facebook and WhatsApp would know how empowered she is. Women's only groups on WhatsApp never tire of sending messages to each other which keep emphasizing how woman is God's special creation. How women are angels, only that they forget to remember so.......! Dear God, what did you do?! You created one whole gender without angelic qualities? Not fair to "Man"kind! Women keep perpetuating the quid pro quo. Recently, a video, which asked women to forget weight-watching and eat what they want as they are beautiful just the way they are, became a rage. Of course, the women watching it forgot to notice that the women in the video were all models...!! And if you eat sugar when you are diabetic, which, unfortunately, increasingly younger women are becoming, you may lose your eye-sight and not even know what beautiful looks are!!!!

8. Encouraging Love. And not just romantic love. Brotherly love. Sisterly love. It is amusing to see endearments pour forth so generously, on WhatsApp especially. Darlings, sweethearts, sweetie-pies.....much such sweet, sweet love! Makes the eyes all moist and teared-up. In real life, the "darlings" don't have time even to talk to each other; the "sweethearts" would cross each other on the streets, without a trace of recognition; and the "sweetie-pies" probably would love to push each others' faces into pies - the '70s Bollywood movies' style - or feed each other pies filled with Karela inside and glazed with Neem outside!

9. Inspiring ordinary souls to become Motivational Gurus. Everyone is a Guru these days. For themselves? Yes, they should be, for everyone should know what they want in life and how they want it. But Facebook and WhatsApp have turned every Netizen into a motivational Guru. Now Deepak Chopras and Wayne Dyers of the world have very, very tough competition.

10. Making people "Gullible". People are ready to believe anything and everything that goes around. More than ready. They also become a part of the machinery that speeds the passing around. Half-truths, untruths, lies, falsehoods, propaganda, self-defeating beliefs - all. Without using them grey cells, much to the horror of Hercule Poirot, had he been alive. Without any proof.

Which makes one wonder: what happened? Why have we Indians become so gullible? Part of the 19th century and the whole of the 20th century were notable for the efforts made by luminaries like Raja Ram Mohun Roy, for inculcating a scientific temper in the Indians. Myths and superstitions were sought to be debunked. The awakening of the spirit of inquiry was an integral part of the Independence Movement. Mahatma Gandhi's Swadeshi movement was not just about spinning khadi and economic self-reliance, but also about self-reliance in temperament. Examine facts and decide for oneself what they mean. Self-belief, self-reliance, self-respect. And what is most amusing is the fact that the instruments used for quelling scientific temper in Indians are products of science itself. Technology. In terms of the Computer, Cell Phone, Internet, mobile telephony etc. 

Fads pass quickly. And I am sure hoping and praying that this is a fad, a phase, and the faster it fades away, the better it is.

Till then, Talk Talk mein confers Saint-"hood" on Facebook and WhatsApp. Now we all shall be using St. Facebook and St. WhatsApp. Or maybe, Sant FacePal and Sant WhatsPal ?!

Disclaimer: This blog post is written in a humorous vein and does not intend to question or make fun of any religion, or religious beliefs.