What have we become: A dirge for the treacherous year that was 2016

2016 has been a treacherous year/ A paean to all things that are just not punctilious

Swapan Seth December 31, 2016 12:28:17 IST
What have we become: A dirge for the treacherous year that was 2016

I stopped watching television decades ago.
The nightly tirade. The daily din. The hourly haranguing.
It all got to me. My other issue was with my two young sons then.
I did not want them to grow up thinking that the accusatory and the manipulative, the pompous and the presumptuous had a place in their living room.
And then social media arrived.
And the insensitive got another stadium to play out their indecency and insanity.

What have we become A dirge for the treacherous year that was 2016

Some months ago, Rajdeep Sardesai interviewed Mrs Gandhi.
The interview had a tone and tenor that the Indian audience is now ruthlessly rejecting.
It had civility in it. It was measured.
It was in your heart.
Not in your face.
Social media massacred him.
Saying that he had been 'tame'
And that he lied given the fact that the promo for the interview said "Breaking News: Mrs Gandhi speaks."
Breaking news is now synonymous with breaking someone's back.
If it does not sully a person, if it does not spill blood, it is not breaking news.
When a friend of mine pointed the promo copy to me, all I said was getting Mrs Gandhi on the show was breaking news and she spoke. So what really was the issue?

A few days ago, a fine couple gave birth to a beautiful baby and we pilloried her. We wished death upon the child.
Every day, lady journalists are threatened with rape.
If we speak about Kashmir, we are unpatriotic. If we are fine with a Pakistani actor acting in a film, we are anti-national.
Every centimetre of our society is now a court where we try whoever we want to, banish whoever we wish to and hang whoever we desire to.
Accusation has become our inner voice.
The finger point is the new point.
If we read something, we google to find out if it has been plagiarised.
Doubt is the only certainty in our society.
And access is the new axis around which our churlishness revolves.
And of course anonymity.
Access and anonymity is a crushing cocktail.
It can explode any citadel of civility.
Everyone is wagging a finger.
Even the American Presidential results prove that bile is here for a while.

2016 has been a treacherous year.
A paean to all things that are just not punctilious.
As the sun sets this evening may the anger within us ebb.
As the hands of the clock turn to the right tonight, let us turn towards tolerance.
Look at what we have become.
Then look at what we can be.

A very Happy New Year to you and yours.

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