BENGALURU : Good morning, Bangalore!
Every time we seem to wrap our heads around the extraordinary circumstances that have been foisted upon us, desperately looking for that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, the year of the rat bites us on the derriere! The year 2020 was symbolically supposed to represent new beginnings and good fortune, but taking into consideration all that has happened and is predicted to happen, the ‘Rat’ seems to be marching to the beat of its own drum. Aside from a pandemic, we have had our share of forest fires, locust infestation, earthquakes and unexpected deaths to bamboozle our brains! I have seen sworn agnostics bending their heads in prayer and mumbling words that suspiciously sound like ‘forgive us’. The fear is tangible!
Where there has been a resurgence of people introspecting, being kinder and more appreciative, this pandemic has also spawned its share of ‘experts’ in every field. As someone very sweetly observed: ‘All the depression experts yesterday, who were the Covid experts the day before, are defence and warfare experts today’! And when I say ‘spawn’, I mean it! These people are bullies who hide behind their keyboards, spewing hatred, misinformation and gobble-de- gook! My more computer literate friends and family try to explain the concept of a ‘bot’ to me.
Apparently these are automated software applications and run according to instructions without a human user starting them up. They are usually useful critters, especially when acting as search engine bots and customer care bots that help users. On the flip side, they have these devious little bots called a social bot or socbot which communicates more or less autonomously on social media, often with the task of influencing the course of discussion and/or the opinions of its readers.
I find that horrifying, especially since I have observed how gullible (and often stupid) people are regarding believing everything they read on social media. I understand that there may be programmed bots to influence an opinion but there are whole hordes of keyboard manipulators who do the same from the anonymity of their computers and are ready to spew lies to unaccredited information portals just to feel relevant or air their own rant.
Recently, a troubled young person felt desperate enough to take his own life. Because this person was by all outward standards, successful, famous and financially stable, the tragedy was more acute. Being an actor and a counsellor myself, a performing artiste is perhaps more sensitive and prone to feelings of intense euphoria and deep despondency more frequently than others. Though I too was shocked by this young man’s action I was also saddened that the quantum of mental health problems is only highlighted when a famous person takes his own life.
Tragedy is not governed by who you are but by how you feel. The overwhelming feeling of desperation, where one goes through the logical and morbid steps of planning one’s own murder is truly terrifying and nobody should go through it. I remember my aunt, who was a leading gynaecologist, sharing a thought with me when we had gone to commiserate with her about her daughter who had tragically taken her own life. She said it was a final act of vengeance that the suicidal person takes on his or her family because, the family member who finds them would not be able to erase that gruesome memory from their psyche… ever.
This death has brought out the worst in people from the film industry, with opportunists and fakers trying desperately to find some publicity in someone else’s tragedy. Insecure people pretending to care fight against ‘nepotism’ while the entitled classes hide behind plush interiors of their homes, hoping this will blow over. There is plenty of ranting and ‘bot’ influenced behaviour. I would say, leave his family with their grief and memories… And the fakers… save your eulogies for the living!