Thursday, February 25, 2010

Socialus Insuffrablus

In a shocking incident Balu P. Yadav, Bihari strongman, was found dead in a dairy farm. Early reports claim he poisoned himself by consuming fodder and breathing in too much methane. A note was found in his pocket and the contents, though being held as evidence, have been leaked. The transcript is courtesy

Dear everyone,

I know this may come as a shock to you, but I have decided to commit suicide. I no longer think it is possible for me to go on living. What I had thought was light at the end of the tunnel turned out to be one of the super fast trains newly announced by Bamta Mannerjee, my bĂȘte noir.

Long have I laboured on this earth doing what I thought I did best, happy with the little I had. Friends, money, some travel, the strength of ten buffaloes, spirituality and quite a few great conversations kept me going, happily for the major part. It all changed and I didn’t even realize it happening.

It began with hi5. Getting back in touch with old friends I thought I’d never meet was among the greatest feelings ever. ‘Aren’t you the girl from Writer’s building? OMG you are so hot!’ type messages were hurriedly exchanged and friends added. Sometimes, such messages were not responded to. Communities were formed and friendships were renewed. It was a slow process but the overall effect was one which drew regular smiles of nostalgia. I hung on to hi5 till a funnily named Google product appeared on the horizon. Eh? Orkut? I wondered and signed up. The ensuing storm of friend requests, scraps, photo albums, testimonials, communities, witty and witless profiles, and innovative names (Tiger’s Goods//**who’s your daddy~~\\) wrapped me in an embrace so tight that I sat hypnotized before the desktop, chanting and refreshing my scrap book every few seconds. Yes, there were chat messengers, but this was different. It was all public. You could see the 300 friends my profile boasted of and testimonials from ardent admirers to prove that I was evidently a great guy. Now everyone would know how popular I was, and not just in Bihar.

By now I was connected to people from all over India and a few friends sprinkled across the globe. Do, I wondered on Google, firangis Orkut? No, came the prompt answer along with a new URL. They Facebook. Apparently you could ‘tag’ the people in the photo by clicking on their faces, hence the name. Everything else though seemed the same. It seemed dubious and I desisted from joining till I saw a safe number of invitations in my inbox. When I eventually did, it struck me as stale butter in a new packet. Within a few weeks, however, I realized that the world was dealing with a completely different monster. Applications started popping up. Polls claimed I was 3rd most likely to go bald and 389th as the favored dinner companion. Another claimed my soulmate would be revealed if I forwarded invitations to all my friends. My home page, instead of displaying my swashbuckling images, now showed updates of what my friends were farming, fishing, watching, wishing, listening and doing.

AND photos of what they had been up to.

This is when I started to worry. Too many people were doing too many things and here I was feeding non-BT fodder to buffaloes. Buffaloes are camera shy. I decided to screw all that my ‘friends’ were doing and live my life. After all, your friend list and profile page is not a reflection of your personality. So what if everyone else went water rafting, paragliding and mountain climbing? I would uphold my respect and not fall prey to this ridiculous urge.

So it went on till this new fellow I once sat beside told me about Titter. It affronted me that someone of his age and position would be party to an adult site. No, no, explained he, it is Twitter. Why don’t you join and follow me? I’m @shtaroor. How? I asked. He logged in through a snazzy phone and showed me his home page. I was immediately hit between the eyes by the 140 character capacity of the status bar. That’s all one could do? I asked. That’s all one can do, he echoed. I held on to my dhoti lest it drop in astonishment. This was it. No photos. No farms. No quizzes. Just what you want to say. In 140 characters or less. You see how well I got hold of it?

So began my twitter journey. At regular intervals I would update my status and let people know what I was doing. I got myself a Chinese made Blackbarry and tweeted away to glory. The guy who had told me about this said something demeaning about cattle which made me yank him up in Parliament, so I realized twitter was actually useful. A few days ago, my phone stopped working. Frustrated I logged on through a desktop and was hit between the eyes by a set of numbers. 145 following. 3 followers: shtaroor, Amul, Bihar dairy. No RTs. 5 months on twitter. No RTs. 3 followers. Bad eyesight had prevented me from seeing these numbers on the Barry. It depressed me no end. The overwhelming feeling of how little my thoughts were valued by the rest of humankind brought me down like a wagon load of belligerent didis. Which is why I am taking this extreme step. Take care of the cows. There’s fodder to keep them happy for the next century. And for God’s sake, atleast RT this!

Balu P. Yadav

Ex-Railway minister
Ex-Chief minister
Ex-Scam artist
Ex-Social media strategist #fml :(

Some names have been changed to protect identities.

{Yes, this is a post about the worrisome aspects of social media. In the good old days one would accuse others with corrupted characters of sleeping around. Now one accuses them of smoring around. Is there any respite to be had from this bombardment of information about 'me' from all of us?}

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


While studying for GMAT, I ask myself a lot of questions. It would help if they were part of the americanised vocabulary i am still trying to master but unfortunately they are of the who are we, what are we doing, are we supposed to be here kinds. Random topics like extinction and hospitality pop into my head and give no peace. Take, for instance, philosophy. As a direct result of a chain of recent events, I've met quite a few people who drop quotes and prophecies like theres no tomorrow. I never realized the extent to which we human beings fall back on the wisdom of greats like Confucius and Kurt Cobain to help us in sticky situations. In fact, I never realized how much i quote these guys. Why do we do it?

It seems to me like a check against, well, almost anything. Give a guy too much happiness and after 5 seconds of elation, his brow wrinkles and staring into the future he will mutter, 'it will pass.' Ditto in a sad scenario, with sulking thrown in for good measure. The gems I have come across have raised even more questions, to further detriment of my GMAT prep. Is it that people are facing so many difficult situations that they see no other alternative other than accepting fate with a smile or a shrug? Have we stopped fighting and trying to change the way things are, instead adopting a hermitic approach to all balance-upsetting scenarios we face? Makes you wonder, have we been designed to worry?

(God: What is this? Angel: Humans, Master. God: Throw some misery in will ya. And send Aristotle down there)

If so, then it brings me to another point. Have you ever heard anyone look at a red Profit statement (red=loss) and say 'it will pass'? You end up thinking about HOW you will make it pass. You do accept that P&L statement, but you go a step ahead and act. How hard is it to do the same in all other situations? Have we been designed as closet hypocrites too?

I'm waiting for Ratan Tata's biography. I'd like to know whether the people who inspire these quotes/sayings actually use them.

PS: If you read this and don’t like it, too bad. Can’t keep everyone happy :-)