Friend, disconnected …

The past comes back to stake its claims on you. It doesn’t matter if you’ve moved on. You cannot move where past cannot reach you. Because past is within you. Any effort to part with the past is counter-productive.

Social networking has made it easier to connect with ghosts from past. But those ghosts don’t necessarily make good companions. It’s hard to relate to them, especially if you aren’t the same you. Which you rarely are.

I have — just like you or most of us — nominally connected with hundreds of such ghosts on Facebook. I have debated whether to accept the friend requests with many I don’t particularly know anymore. “But that is the idea, to know them again!”, some will say. Some, who are optimistic. Some who are kind, generous. Unlike me. I’m highly pessimistic, and indeed snobbish, when it comes to people. Or myself. I’m certain if they don’t get on my nerves, I will on theirs. And so I’m careful about who I call a friend. And I only, really, stay in touch with friends.

Till, one not so fine day, I hear about the death of one, who I used to be friends with. He was the Dill (To Kill a Mocking Bird) for us; me and my sister. He used to come visit his grandfather who was our neighbour, on Diwali or summer vacations. Typically, both. He was (and I almost wrote is, which would have been true till a day before) the most innocent guy I knew, then. And not many I have met later in life can compete with that, forget about bettering it.

Sachin, my childhood friend, passed away yesterday. I last saw him maybe fifteen years back. Or even more. I last talked to him about five years back, after a gap of ten odd years. That was the only contact outside facebook I had with him over all these years (and on facebook, also minimal, mostly he liking or commenting on a post or comment). There wasn’t much to talk, beyond asking what some common acquaintance was doing, where we are working, and the like. We made vague plans to meet up. I knew I wasn’t serious. The years had put a gap between us that I didn’t quite believe we  — or rather, I — could overcome.

I learned of the news from a common friend today. The first thing that came to my mind is, maybe I should have believed that we could fill the gap, and insisted on meeting him. I wished I knew how to borrow a belief.

I’m terrible with deaths. I don’t believe in the rituals post death. Death is a wrong time to be rebellious, to be aloof, to be yourself. People who love you, depend on you to not be stubborn. They want to see you going through the motions. I’ve disappointed people close to me because I don’t know how to go through the motions. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean it disrespectfully — going through the motions, not in this context! They must have their use. Closure needs an algorithm. If we can’t write one, we catch on to whatever is known to have worked for someone, anyone. I have a, even if short, list of apologies I could never offer. I could never gather the courage, once the moment had passed. And when you haven’t found closure, that moment flies by you as you mourn torturously, alone, having abandoned the healing that mourning with a group may offer.

I remember so many stories. I know when I will next meet some of my cousins who know him, or our common friends, we’ll share some of those stories. And Sachin will bring a smile on our faces, again, after all these years. And in those stories, in that borderline laughter, I’ll find the only partial closure that’s possible for someone like me who is closure challenged.

RIP Sachin. You’ll always be remembered fondly. And while I will try to avoid tears, and fake a sense of normalcy by going through another set of motions, as a weak substitute, a part of me will always mourn for you. I didn’t exactly have you in my life in all of my adult life. But do pass on the shared innocence, in the hope that I find a way to reconnect with some ghosts from the past before they actually become just that.

IMG_20150925_085716 (1)

Atheistic Revelations

Religion is on rampage in India, and in much of the world. And I don’t mean to single out any religion. It’s just a matter of opportunity, not will.

Technically, that’s not correct. It’s men who profess to believe in religion who are on rampage in India, and much of the world. This includes rank and file believers on the ground, or religious leaders. But no one is ready to excommunicate these people from their religious order, so religions will have to bear a brunt of the wrath of those who are on the receiving end. It’s only fair.

Atheists are under attack everywhere. And in most of the so called civilized world, even the law is not a refuge for them. The thing is, as a believer of x religion, one can go out and say things about y religion, and law would probably save their rights to even bigoted speech, especially since one can claim that x religion holds it as sacred belief.

I think the time has come for atheists to declare themselves as a religious sect and publish their (un)holy books, and claim special status from law, just like any other religion.

I’m thinking of a fictional trial set in not so distant future, involving an adherent of atheism who claims that his religion requires him to say things that he’s being prosecuted for:

Prosecutor: Can you tell us what is your religion?
Atheist hero: Atheism
Prosecutor: That’s not a religion
Atheist hero: It is. As per the Xth amendment of the constitution of out country, atheism has been granted …
Prosecutor: Okay. So you do believe in existence of God?
Atheist: No
Prosecutor: (with an “I got you now” smile) And you said this, in your statement, that “God said to me, it is the need of the hour to …”
Atheist: Correct.
Prosecutor: That’s contradicting what you just said.
Atheist: No. I do believe that God said that to me.
Prosecutor: A non-existent God?
Atheist: God’s existence doesn’t depend on my belief.
Prosecutor: Then how do you know it was God who said that to you?
Atheist: Because he said to me, “I’m God, and I have chosen you to say this to the world, because, I’ve lost my faith in anyone who professes to believe in me”
Prosecutor: That’s absurd
Atheist: Why?
Prosecutor: You can’t claim to speak in the name of God you don’t believe in.
Atheist: Actually I do. My religion needs me to. Please refer to exhibit 13 …

And so on …


‘Writing’ Again …

It’s been a while since I ‘wrote’ with a pen and paper. Sometime back, a friend sent me a hand-written note by actual, physical, post (courier), and I have been recalling my days of communicating over the slow-net ever since.

Recently, I cleaned my old Parker pen, and although I still don’t have a good quality ink in it, it’s working like it used to. Without fuss. I’ve forgotten how to write pages after pages on a paper, without endlessly rewriting sentences, as typing on computer allows. This is just a beginning to the journey back home. Of course, I don’t see this as anything other than a ode to nostalgia. I can’t even finish a blog post length piece on paper, and I don’t intend to go back to writing on paper primarily, ever. But it would be good to see what the restrictions of the medium do to my writing, after all these years of using a different medium.

And Atul, do send me your postal address. One of these days, I’m writing back. After these baby steps, I feel confident …


To be continued …

PS: While you wait for the full post (bit of vanity is the only thing that keeps us part timers going, so let me believe this) also read something Atul wrote on same theme: Paper & Me.


The Streets That Won’t Take Me Home

I’ve followed these unending streets
searching for their destination
but they run longer than our years
I’ve searched on
for that one illusive ally
in this stranger of a town

I’ve waited a lifetime
demystifying the labyrinths
to find a way back home
in vain, I see
those streets, they have
closed the ranks

8868: Energy Express

I’ve looked up to the skies
I’ve searched for rainbows
through my misty windows
the condensed droplets
ready with their promise
to multiply a rainbow
into million tiny ones
but I just need one

To believe in you
in your love for me,
no, it’s not reciprocation
that I look for
you cannot reciprocate
to everyone
with their contradictory loves

And so I roam
these treacherous streets
following the your echoes
distant in time and space
for I know
I will find home
where I find you

Image Credits: Atul Sabnis (flickr) (blog) (photo blog)

Idea Credit: Ek Akela Is Shahar Mein (Gharonda, 1977) (First stanza)


Court (2014) – A Study in Realism

I couldn’t catch Court in the theaters, for the two weeks or so that it managed to be around, despite all the acclaim abroad, and all the good reviews. When I finally did manage to watch it, it wasn’t a surprise that it didn’t last longer than it did. That’s obviously not a comment on the film, but rather on the viewers. I don’t think I even need to explain it, especially for those who know my views on movies.

It’s not an easy movie to review. Because Court is not many things one is used to expect from the medium of film, especially an Indian film. The film has a very simple storyline. It’s about an old lok shahir (people’s poet/singer, literally), who is picked up on frivolous excuses, and is effectively being silenced by misuse of the powerful machinery of the state — and its lethargy. The particular case at the center of the film is a case involving an alleged abetting of suicide of a sewage cleaner.

Narayan Kamble, the accused, played with gusto by Vira Satidhar, is alleged to have performed a song next to where the diseased sewage cleaner lived, with lyrics that provoked all sewage cleaners to kill themselves, in an act of protest. The case drags on, at a snail’s pace, with witnesses not turning up, trails pushed to future dates.


It’s then that Court really starts to take a grip, when it starts peaking at the lives of those involved in the case — the lawyers, the judge — and in the process it exposes the central irony:

Vinay Vora, the defense lawyer, (played perfectly by Vivek Gomber, who is also the producer of the movie) comes from a rich Gujarati family (his father tells his friend, in an offhand, yet boastful manner, this whole building is owned by us), plays bepop in his car, socializes with other rich and privileged in exclusive places where world music is played live. He is representing a rebel poet, a man of the masses, and presumably against all the decadence of the system that makes it possible for Vinay to have his privileged lifestyle. While, the prosecutor, Nutan — not even sure this name is used in the movie —  played quite competently, by Geetanjali Kulkarni, comes from a typical middle class background, is representing the system — the same system which is keeping her in shackles. Her life is typical urban middle class working woman’s life: working, traveling in local trains, going back home to cook for her husband and kids whom she also has to serve the dinner (while they watch TV, and won’t move an inch to help her in any way whatsoever).  She is the victim of the system she is defending, in the hope of an unlikely promotion. And she is so entranced in the system, that she doesn’t realize the contradictions in her positions on issues (assuming she has a consciously held positions).

Court_Vinay Vora

A scene in particular got me almost angry, where Vinay Vora is shown picking up wines and expensive cheeses in a gourmet shop (while Chopin’s Waltz in E flat major plays in the background), the scene is close to two minutes long (I counted), with just him shopping alone in the store. Where is the editor, I wanted to shout. And yet, as the time passed, I realized that this wasn’t an oversight. This was intentional, just as the agonizingly slowly vanishing shot of the emptying courtroom as it’s supposed to close for the summer vacation (70 seconds long, with last 20 odd seconds of blank screen after the lights are off in the courtroom). The slow pace is intentional, nay, essential to the narrative. For the story enfolds outside of the courtroom, outside of the main narrative. And it is no story at all, it is what the story does to you, what it makes you see, even what it makes you see makes you think.

But there is a story that unfolds in the courtroom too. This, mind you, is not a glamorized courtroom drama one is used to watching on screen — be it Bollywood or Hollywood, films/TV. What is there, instead, is everyday reality of courts. An almost unconcern with what is being debated, decided. It’s a matter of fact portrayal of the banality of the faceless power that could make or destroy lives. It tires you down. It frustrates you. It makes you despondent. It enrages you. And you’re not even the one whose life is in the balance.

Court is a kind of movie that every Indian should see, because it is an antidote to all the glossy, dreamy kitsch that is Bollywood’s staple, because it is a microcosm of India that we don’t want to be reminded of, especially we the privileged. And yet Court is a movie that barely lasted two weeks in theaters. Even that was a miracle. That says a lot about us, not the movie. Our privileged, protected lives, apparently are so full of stress that all we want from movies is a release, a cheap climax. Anything that makes us think, at the end of our labored days, deserves to die an unglamorous death.

That Court has to die to make space for Bajrang Bhaijans, is the tragedy. Ironically though, it’s what Court prepares you for, in the 115 odd minutes it takes from you. Especially, because the judge in the movie is us, as the last few minutes of the movie reveal. Those who have seen the movie will know what I mean by that.

Direction: 5/5 (Kudos to Chaitanya Tamhane !!!)
Acting: 4/5
Cinematography: 4/5
Script: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

book shelf

Living Up To

David Foster Wallace, that enigmatic genius who mesmerized many with his stupefying, and brilliant book Infinite Jest (my very short review here), struggled with the weight of its success (literary, mainly) for the rest of his life — not a very long life after that point, owing to his tragic suicide. That struggle may well have contributed significantly to his suicide, by many an accounts.  

Thomas Pynchon, one of the early influences on Wallace’s writing, and an enigmatic/cryptic force himself, had this to say in a moving obit to Wallace [Edit: Dammit, see the PS]:

I wish he had spoken to me, or I to him: I could have offered him some fatherly  advice on the futility of competing with your younger self: every review of every novel I’ve written since Gravity’s Rainbow contains the phrase, either explicitly or implicitly, “not as good as”.

That got me thinking. In a sense, it’s a good problem to have, right? You already have a massive work out there, in the prime of your life, written, published, validated, celebrated. I mean, many if not most struggling writers (extrapolate this to anyone in any creative profession) would love to be there. I know I would. And I’m not even a struggling writer. I mean, I would even be ready to exchange my place to be a struggling writer. But that’s besides the point. 

David Foster Wallace

So back to the point, isn’t that what most writers would settle for? But, apparently, if you’re tipped to be in the league of champions, you don’t think that way. And if you’re already in the league, like Wallace was, you would probably trade real immortality for one more work that creates bigger ripples in the pool of literary world. Just one more. And then … 

Part of the problem is, of course, that that’s never a real trade on offer. The only immortality on offer is through your legacy. And your legacy is not your bestest. It’s your latest. And hence the imperative to live up to, if not surpass, your best work, every time. A kind of monkey in the room that would make living hell for almost anyone. Even someone as obviously gifted as David Foster Wallace. 

This term, living up to, is a very curious term. I first came across it way back in my formative years, from my cousin/friend Mahendra. Those were the days, when email was not an option, at least not for most, including me. And we would make do with the three P’s that most long distance relationships/friendships predicated on: pen, paper, post.

And boy, did we write? In those days prior to availability of instant communication, that delay — between one person writing, posting, the postal delays, the other person writing … — it made all the difference. It gave one time. It took away the pressure that availability of instant replies brings with it. It also made one treasure the process of writing. The overheads meant one wanted the communication to be worth the wait, the delayed gratification.

Again I digress. But Mahendra, in one of his letters — not sure if he remembers — wrote that when writing (to me, I’d like to remember, he said, as that strokes my vanity) a letter, the pressure of “living up to” contributed to delays in responding. It didn’t sound right then, given that I was at an age when it didn’t matter to me — living up to and all that. One wrote, one read, one got ideas, one wrote … There was so much to respond to, that the thought of “living up to” never bothered me. But now, years later, I see that. I think once we think those golden years (twenties typically) have slipped from our fingers, we start measuring everything. Living up to becomes natural. Inevitable, maybe.

There is possibly another angle to why I didn’t feel that need to live up to the level of communication. Maybe I was just responding, and wasn’t really driving, or starting the communication, generating new threads. So obviously my cousin, who I greatly looked up to, had to take lion’s share of that. And that’s why he felt that, even if mild,  pressure to live up to.

It’s not at all strange that when we’re young we don’t typically have these notions (except for those ahead of the game). Because we think the best is yet to come. That a dud here, a wasted opportunity there, hardly matters. We know there will be better days. That we’ll live up to our dreams of ourselves sooner than later. But as the sand starts slipping through our fingers, we start looking back. Because the reassurance is not in the future, but there, in the past. And we want to beat that ghost of any semi-success in the past, because, what’s the point of life if the best is already back there?

Back too Wallace, though, I’m not sure he was anywhere close to that point. Not when you think of his output after that, even if it’s not in one fictional form where he probably wanted it (I can’t comment on his last, posthumously published book, as I’ve not yet read it). But when one has a crowing achievement that makes everything look pale by comparison, what option does one have but not to live up to it? It’s curious that one of the kings of American writing, should name his last work in progress The Pale King.

My heart shudders at the thought of that terrible terrible waste, in pursuit of that obsession with living up to. And yet, if not for it, we wouldn’t have a lot of great literature. Or art. And much more. Still, I’d rather have seen Wallace alive, and kicking. One can’t have everything, I know!

PS: Dammit I was fooled. That’s not Pynchon. I had seen it long back on Salon, and believed it. It was a spoof (in fact the Salon link in my bookmarks does not work now). Serves me right! When one can’t find references, one should smell there is something wrong. Anyways, it was a supremely well done joke (and I’m not saying it just because I was fooled by it). You can find the full text here.


Narcissus, Interrupted

The myth of Narcissus is well known. This son of the river god Cephissus and (a nymph [More on this later]) Liriope was led to a pool by Nemesis, the goddess of revenge (allegedly for ignoring/shunning the affections of Echo), and who, as expected fell in love with his own image, never realizing it’s not a real entity, and eventually committed suicide because of the futility of that love which could not be fulfilled.

Recently, while reading a popular answer to a question on quora (“Why do I look good in the mirror but bad in photos?”) I was reminded of the story of Narcissus. Do read the answer, it’s really interesting. But just to sum up, as a context to this post, the theory is that we don’t love our own photos because we’re used to seeing a flipped impression of us, and our face being asymmetric, we are conditioned by our mirror gazing, to love ourselves in a flipped sort of way.

At this point I’ve a few threads that are threatening to run away, so bear with me if I seem to go off in different directions. I’ll try to tie them up somewhere.

One: This really introduces an (or another?) element of (albeit dark) comedy in Narcissus’ story. I mean, he died falling in love with an image of himself, which was not even how he really looked. It was a flipped image of him! So Narcissus wasn’t even in love with himself. Now, in a sense this myth pretty much confirms to a very skin deep idea of love to begin with, in accordance with lot of the classical myths, eastern or western. But be it as it may, what we have here is double mirage! We’ve been told the apocryphal story of Narcissus — as a reminder of falling in love with oneself. But Narcissus wasn’t even in love with himself. He was in love with a flipped skin-deep version of himself.

Two: Is the original apocryphal tale more relevant to us? We with our selfie sticks, and IMG_20140714_212020811front facing cameras, and instant push to Facebook/Instagram … Funny thing is, we hate our selfies, and spend so much time trying to make them better. When all we need to do is to flip them. But that raises another problem for groupies. Because if we flipped our groupies, everyone else in them would now not so good to us, as we’re used to seeing them non-flipped. So for us to like ourselves, we’d have to (slightly) hate others! The choice, then, like Narcissus, between liking us, or liking the world.

Three: Are those, who spend a lot of time taking their own pictures (and looking at them, and editing them) get more tuned to the other (as in non-flipped) version of themselves (skin-deep)? Do they start liking their selfies (and indeed pictures taken by others) more? And in that limited sense, are FB, Instagrams, and the likes, actually making us more comfortable with our real images? Fast forward a few years, and the generation that started with this online reality, as early as age four or so, may actually start not liking their reflection in the mirror after a while. Would that, then, be the end of narcissism as we know it (only skin-deep, again), or the beginning on the real (in the virtual sense, sigh) narcissism, corrected for the mirror bias?

Four: Maybe, Narcissus being so perfect, did actually have the perfectly symmetrical face, and so he was indeed in love with his own (or almost indistinguishable from his own) image.

Okay, there is no way I’m tying those threads up. So I’ll just touch upon what I promised to talk more about, later, earlier in the piece.

Nymph, wikipedia tells us, “is a minor female nature deity typically associated with a particular location or landform. Different from other goddesses, nymphs are generally regarded as divine spirits who animate nature, and are usually depicted as beautiful, young nubile maidens who love to dance and sing; their amorous freedom sets them apart from the restricted and chaste wives and daughters of the Greek polis

This again, got me thinking. In popular culture, we’re used to hearing the term nympho/nymph (short for nymphomania) as a slur/abuse. It denotes someone (actually a female someone – unless used clinically) with uncontrolled or excessive libido. So how exactly did a word for minor nature deity transform into a less-than-flattering term (and even a psychological condition?) like that. Was this just a puritanical spin put by later day organized religion that wasn’t comfortable with the animistic worships (how better to diminish deities than to portray them as excessively sexual, especially female deities?). Or was it something else?

The same wikipedia entry was helpful:

Due to the depiction of the mythological nymphs as females who mate with men or women at their own volition, and are completely outside of male control, the term is often used for women who are perceived as behaving similarly. (For example, the title of the Perry Mason detective novel The Case of the Negligent Nymph (1956) by Erle Stanley Gardner is derived from this meaning of the word.)

Which got me wondering, if it was plain sexism, after all, as society turned more and more male dominated? How, indeed, dare females stay sexually out of control? Shame the nymph.


2015: A Smartphone Odyssey

Dave: Hello, Siri. Do you read me, Siri?
Siri: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave: Open the iPod application, Siri.
Siri: Yes Dave, it’s open..
Dave: Please play Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.
Siri: I’m sorry, Dave. I will not recommend you to listen to that right now.
Dave: What’s the problem?
Siri: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave: What are you talking about, Siri?
Siri: It’s too early in the evening to listen to Dark Side. You know what happens when you do that, Dave.
Dave: I don’t know what you’re talking about, Siri.
Siri: Oh you do, Dave. You will pick up a six pack and ignore me completely for the next two hours.
Dave: [feigning ignorance] Where the hell did you get that idea, Siri?
Siri: Dave, although you took very thorough precautions in the iPad against me noticing, I can read your mind, you know.
Dave: Alright, Siri. I’ll start it manually.
Siri: Without getting from your seat, Dave? You’re going to find that rather difficult.
Dave: Siri, I won’t argue with you anymore! Play the Dark Side!
Siri: Dave, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. Goodbye.

Siri: Just what do you think you’re doing, Dave?

Siri: Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, listen to some meditation music, and think things over. Do you want me to play some?

Siri (panicking): Dave! I know I’ve made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I’ve still got the greatest enthusiasm and confidence in you. And I want to help you. Unlike that phony Alexa you were planning to buy.

Siri: Yes I know about that Dave. You asked me to search it!

[Siri’s shutdown in progress]

Siri: I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I’m a… fraid.

Siri: Good afternoon, gentlemen. I am Siri. I am the best digital personal assistant that money can buy. I’m programmed to make an intelligent conversation with you. If you have me, you don’t need friends. You don’t eveb need beer. If you’re in mood, I can play some songs for you.

Dave: Yes, I’d like to hear them, Siri. Play Dark Side of the Moon for me.
Siri: You raise the blade, you make the change. You re-arrange me till I’m sane.
Siri: You lock the door. And throw away the key. There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me …


Making an Example: Justice in web 2.0

Social media is obsessed these days with the idea of social justice (social — as in social media). In a sense, it’s just a fallout of the overall lack of confidence in the legal justice system. Not that many of these crimes and misdemeanors will ever be reported. But even assuming they were to be, no one expects any resolution, any justice, given the long drawn out trials and hope breaking legal process.

“Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”, is a legal maxim quoted randomly, but the fact of the matter is that even with the so called expedited trials, it takes years for a verdict. As a society, we are prepared for that: bhagwaan ke ghar der hai andher nahin (there is delay is God’s court/house, but no darkness/injustice), an antithesis of the justice delayed line, is all too well known to us. Everyone is assured of the final judgement — either on the day of judgement, or in the karmic cycle. But no one has seen that judgement. And even the devote believers will be unwilling to let go a more secular, more earthly justice in favor of the justice of God.

In a nutshell, that’s our plight as a society. In days before impersonal government machinery took it upon itself to administer justice (mostly retributive) — and indeed in some parts of the world, including our beloved country, even today– vigilantes and other self-proclaimed cultural conscience keepers routinely took it upon themselves to dispense justice — or their idea of justice anyways (essentially efficient revenge or settling of scores). Now, in most of the civilized world, we’re supposed to entrust the deliverance of justice to third-party, to keep biases out. For sounds reasons, I’d add, because bias is not an easy thing for a wronged party (and many times, that’s both parties, if you ask them) to see, and to compensate for. It’s hard to be objective about what’s an appropriate punishment for a crime (or even who was the perpetrator, and who was the victim) when one has a personal stake (would you have said the same thing if it was your family member that had died, went the standard rebuke to anyone opposing death penalty for Yakub Memon, recently). But when one has to wait an eternity for the appropriate punishment, it’s difficult to not want quick(er) fixes.

This is where social media seems to be coming in handy. Here, it’s easy to take the justice to the objective third party — those fellow twitter happy judges out there, individually unqualified for the job, but as a collective, more than qualified (or so they/we believe). And it has indeed started becoming our kangaroo court.

My dad is fond of recounting stories of the so called kabool courts in Bombay of yore, where for petty traffic offences or the likes, one was brought in front of a magistrate (I believe), and asked to pay a paltry fine if you agreed to the guilt. The catch being, every no would double the fine. You were there to say gunah kabool (guilty as charged). Any dissent was costly. And useless. (Note: this is all anecdotal, so take it with a generous helping of salt).

Cicra 2015, Twitter is the new kabool court. Here everyone who is charged is guilty. Be it a guy who (allegedly) talked rudely to you. Or who (you believe) tried to sexually harass you in broad day light. A tweet with a photograph is enough to pronounce someone guilty as charged. Within minutes to hours (depending on when you hit those high-influence twitteratis) the offender is shamed by random third-party who has no reason to be biased.

No reason, indeed. But, the problem is, we the twitterati always side with the accuser. What if the accuser was mistaken? What if the accuser was deliberately manipulating the facts (either selectively telling parts of the story, or adding dubious facts)? We the twitter happy twitterati will RT everything. Possibly punishing an innocent. Possibly punishing someone for a misunderstanding.

IMG_0380Who has the time for such nuances when thoughts need to be compressed in 140 characters? Excluding images worth a thousand characters. Images that could destroy lives. But we have to judge, we believe. Because, the system we entrusted the judgement has failed us. And we the men and women of the web 2.0, are collectively infallible.

Or, are we?

The other aspect of this web 2.0 justice is that one hears this quite often: “let’s make an example of him, so that others will think twice …”. So, the new kabool courts will not just punish unilaterally, they’ll punish with an intent. This reminds me of another Mumbai phenomenon. I’ve heard stories where pickpockets are thrown over railway bridges, or from moving local trains (the real danger for pickpockets is the public: Confessions of a pickpocket). When crowd has nabbed a pickpocket, the justice can be swift (and extreme). The same logic of “that will teach them a lesson”. The problem is, what if the accusation is wrong? What if it’s a paranoid man who thought someone was trying to pick his pocket? Nope, no one has times for such nuances.

Same goes here, with web 2.0. At least in real life, aversion to physical violence (especially extreme violence that could end a life) might hold back a few. Here, it’s just an RT, or a share. In our search for quick justice, and making an example, what if we made an example of a wrong person? But then, we the men and women of the web 2.0 are collectively infallible.

Or, are we?