Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of things have happened. Needless to say, it has been a disaster causing loss of more than 2 lakh lives and still more are cropping up as I write this. However, what I shall be discussing here is some of the trends that have emerged, revealing a lot about human nature in, especially India and I am going to take a stance on many topics of subjective morality which might be very offensive to many. So dear reader, continue to read only at your own risk, and do not proceed if you are easily triggered.
COVID-19, for me, has been a great display of people’s attitudes as we have now become a Type-1 civilization as far as communication and sharing of information is concerned. What has actually NOT baffled me is the number of hopeless forwards and fake news regarding this matter and how little verification people need before callously forwarding whatever comes to their social media receptors. On the other hand, what actually baffles me is the degree of ignorance it would take to actually believe some of these things to be true. And furthermore, what truly boggles my mind is the confidence with which people present opinions and viewpoints without any proper logic, to speak whatever sounds sweet, and also from a moral pedestal. So without naming anyone or anything in particular, for reasons that will become evident in this very piece of writing, I am going to pick up a few notable instances of many from my personal point of view and just hope that you can understand where I am coming from, without being quick to take offence. It is fine if you do not know the incidents I mention, for the principle of instances and the stances I take here are not only universal, but also have been addressed throughout space and time and even in international debates dedicated to them. I shall not cite any sources of information or any person in particular, but you are welcome to confirm them for yourself, and contradict or support your annoying Ero Sennin as much as you want, and especially correct me if I am wrong in terms of objective data. After all, the internet is your friend.
The first case I want to look at is the balcony antics that were organized by the government, two of them to be precise, of clapping for the health workers and the other about lighting candles for them. Both of these cases had good intentions and these people deserve all the respect for handling their duty effectively. But this led to a lot of gatherings and marches which were well critiqued, I am not going to get into that. What intrigues me most is the insane amount of praise that the ministers, especially the PM got for it. Fact check, India had one of the most late responses regarding conservation of PPE, one of the lowest amounts of GDP allotted to this purpose and no effective measures whatsoever for the wage labourers and poor people during the time this great show was used to give credit to the government. Now many people might compare Indian statistics (this includes statements from a lot of influential people from the foreign countries also, but haven’t we already seen our fair share of influential snowflakes already?) of the disease with other countries but I would like to ask them to kindly check the tourism stats of the affected countries and compare them with India. Now please don’t ask me to explain how tourism is related to this disease. Moreover, there are speculations about the climate, due to which African countries with very poor healthcare also seem to be managing well with it. So, the credit given to the government is, according to me, a result of propaganda rather than real critical thinking.
This is not even what baffled me the most, as the government is always successful in tricking ignoramuses with sweet words, which is how they came to power the second time, based on religious sentiment despite a dismal performance. What truly baffled me was the sheer number of ignorant idiots who kept telling us that now was not the time to criticize the government! SERIOUSLY? Did they forget how democracy and discourse function? Ever wondered why the opposition party is so important in democracy? If they wanted no criticism and to blindly follow the power, they should have demanded a king, like the dark ages. But well, the moral pedestal never fails to provide self-gratification. But for their information, there are other ways of achieving it too! (without hampering the healthy functioning of a government) I mean, why can people not take criticism healthily for improvement (includes the government)? Why take it as a personal insult? Where has professionalism gone?
In Assam, this blind bootlicking of the government became even more evident as people seemed to declare those same people as heroes that were previously criticized for jeopardizing the economy and culture (although I don’t subscribe to the culture argument) by supporting a terrible act detrimental to the already overpopulated state. People seem to have forgotten that the same way they forgot to ask for justice for the poor boys lynched to death by the demons that have not been punished duly yet. No one, not even the mainstream news channels have remembered to follow that up ever since it has stopped trending (as far as I know). I do not know about the future but till now there have been no real benefits given to the doctors and health workers apart for some insurance and I think they deserve more than just an applause, some clanking of plates and spoons and flickering lights.
Then in India, came the incidents of various religious congregations (and one major one in particular) that were, extremely callously held despite WHO proclaiming a global pandemic alert. Yes, it was the fault of the government too for failing to stop it, but the way they were blamed, as if they were the ones responsible for causing it, as if the people who caused these congregations did not have a will (or a brain) of their own. A common comparison to this would be to hold the failed policeman responsible for the crime instead of the criminal. It was pathetic to see people trying to (and failing miserably) to try and defend the congregation. Some even tried to be objective, as if it was a mere co-incidence that the congregation, they were defending was the one that belonged to their own religion! Oh, it did not spread from there was a common defence, as if holding the congregation itself was not risky enough (and there was ample proof of the source of spreading in later cases anyway).
Then in Assam, came a flurry of memes, trends and challenges as people looked for ways to pass time, shut up in their homes. There were online interviews of many people including two ladies who went on to say things which created an uproar. Many found it funny and offensive too, and needless to say it became a great source of memes. Then again, I was baffled by this very same moral pedestal that sought to shut up (or rather ban, if they could) opinions and memes and this time it became even more popular. Even diplomatic people who had stayed shut during the graver issues decided to speak up and sound good, as if they actually had a logical point. Their argument was mainly this- such memes (which are basically JOKES) cause character assassination and harassment and few other heavy terms such as these.
First off, must clarify that I absolutely respect their right to have an opinion but not necessarily the opinion itself which seems nothing but mindless snowflakery to me. Firstly, jokes to me, do not cause character assassination as they do not claim to be true. No one took the memes including the ladies’ reaction snapshots to penis sizes or the flying eyebrows literally, they were JUST JOKES (and also impossible to anyone who has a single brain cell!) Secondly, the ‘block’ or ‘unfollow’ options are there for a reason, these memes can be easily ignored. This is not harassment if it can be avoided so easily. If someone is messaging the lady personally or following around passing comments in real life, then it is definitely harassment and that person should be punished, but I have not heard any such instance as of yet. And again, may talk about how the ‘society’ would react to it and its consequences, my response to them is simple- if the society takes a joke (which claims to be a joke) and takes it literally then who is to blame? The person who created the joke or the ignoramus who took it to be true and committed the crime? Oh, be careful! the next time you call someone nuts an idiot might try to actually eat him, and these people would want you to be punished for it!
Countless times, I have quoted Coleridge, Hooker, Foucault, Chomsky, Hitchens and I do not remember who else, but it fell below the sky-high moral pedestal and equally ignorant supporters of this stupidity which only listens to ‘sweet words’ and not facts. Anyone who understands the concept of how discourse evolves and how ideas have an evolutionary life of their own and with their own philosophical butterfly effect, possible lead to new and better ideas (which are impossible to predict) should know why this freedom to criticize and joke about anything is needed, apart from making life much easier with more freedom. As far as the pleasure principle is concerned, they do not objectively harm anyone unless that person is forced into playing a victim card with nothing but a fallacious appeal to emotion. The debate of Christopher Hitchens and Shashi Tharoor on this very topic sheds a fair amount of light on my point.
Finally, readers, it’s time for this annoying Ero Sennin to take your leave, I have ranted much more than I intended to anyway, but before parting just think about the consequences of such censorship, where do you draw the line for this emotional offence that can be taken by just anybody for anything, with nothing objective to determine its authenticity. I find millions of Facebook accounts very annoying (even more than you find me), maybe even yours. Maybe I don’t like your face, it reminds me of a serial killer and gives me great mental trauma would you please delete your picture? Maybe each one of your silly post pisses me off just because I think it might ‘inappropriate’ (again I decide subjectively what’s appropriate and whats not). Should I ask for your (and a million other people’s) facebook accounts to be banned from social media altogether? Could there ever be an objective measure of how much offence one takes? Could the society EVER come out of the dark ages and advance in technology if offensive ideas were banned (think Galileo, Copernicus, Giordano Bruno and so many burnt at the stake before we even heard of them)? Can you truly draw a line for this sort of joke-policing? Think about it. And do check out the statistics of how the most developed countries have the most freedom of expression while you are at it. Ero Sennin out.