The Daemon in our Lives

This post in second to another. The prologue of the first post, will be available shortly, trusted my meticulous negotiation tactics.

A casual friend reached out again, triggered perhaps by the need to justify a position, to lend good advice. What is remarkable, though is the medium which she chose. When I wrote “The decision to Abstain’, I was scared, more than anything else. I consider myself a strong willed person and the mob had gotten to me. On particular occasions where I doubt that about myself, I choose to voluntarily and under delusion of spirits, get into a physical fight. I’ve been in custody for being on both sides of a fight, must admit, the legal one is smoother. However, when this friend of mine, Pallavi, reached out to me, she send me a rather long piece of message on a particular medium called messenger.

Now, Facebook, being as cunning as it is, realised that running a 127mb app on my phone at all points of time probably wasn’t a great way to crack emerging markets. So, it launched a second app called messenger. You could always send a private message through Facebook. I remember them having tried email a while back. The charm of procrastination that Facebook thrives upon, though, is not peer to peer transmission. Facebook, uses the mob to wield its control over an unknowing section of people. Messages on Facebook, either through messenger or through the native app, are constructive. People use them to say things they mean, without having the judgmental, eerie eyes of the mob on them. The best way to describe the earlier sentiment is perhaps to imagine trying to gather the remains of your father’s half eaten, bloody carcass, from under the stare of hungry wolves. Or something a bit more dramatic! Throw in a full moon and some howling winds, maybe!

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I like messenger, same as I like WhatsApp. Shocking though, then the parent company is one that I physically distaste. So, Pallavi decided to say this, [edited for dramatisation, but largely intact and with prior author permission]

“Since joining the social sector, I have become a rebel in posting whatever the hell I want and deleting all of those people from my friend list and or life who don’t get me or make me feel guilty about being me. I will continue posting what I truly feel without the pressure of the ‘mob’ because there are always 1 or 2 people who agree, appreciate and that’s more than enough.”

My first reaction clearly was to ask for permission, which she promptly lent. She said, she did so cause she was a rebel and this is what got me bemused. So the Galactic Empire is out with its massive army to get you and you decide to take refuge on a deserted planet in the outer rim of the galaxy. A rebel, against the mob of the stormtroopers, who lack humanity, passion and are devoid of the guilt of being responsible for your own actions. My primary emotion while writing this post is the sad look of bemusement. A person who thrives on the adulation, admiration and consent of one or two people, chooses to interact on a medium that thrives on useless, meaningless connectivity. Another friend of mine who comes to my house pretty often to hang out, panics every time she needs to put her phone on charge. It’s almost like the phone is her daemon, an animate representation of a person’s completeness, maybe their soul, trapped outside the physical body. More than a few minutes without it being near you, and you begin to panic. Remember, how Voldemort feels whenever a Horcrux is destroyed. You feel quite the same way when your mobile phone slips through your fingers, on to the escalator and keep tumbling down, cracking at every contact, don’t you?

This incessant need to know what the world world is upto, is frankly not a new one. In earlier, simpler times curiosity was a much accoladed virtue. It made you circumnavigate the globe. Since then, well, we all have gotten much to close. Facebook’s ambition is to connect all the seven billion fucking humans on the planet. If that is not a fucking mob, what is? However, historically, as much as we desire contact, we also seek out solidarity. Monks move to the fucking mountains, to seek out an iota of peace, and so do we, which is what we choose to call vacations. Opening Facebook every morning, is akin to waking up every day, opening your door to collect your newspaper and getting covered from head to ankle with the slimy, mucky and stinky filth of the world. Messenger, like it’s name is a messaging service. I have no idea what Facebook means, maybe taking a great Book and sticking it up your Face so close, you can’t even fucking breathe!

Pallavi’s message is unique in a lot of ways. There is the choice of the medium and the admission of rebellion. I was under the assumption, that when fellow rebels communicate they choose not use the same platform as is owned by the Galactic Empire. But, maybe this is rebellion without a cause. I mean’s let’s understand what she’s saying. “… a rebel in posting whatever the hell I want” — wasn’t this the initial premise, anyways. For God’s sake, Facebook’s alleged predecessor Orkut, had something called a scrapbook. For if individuals, on Facebook, didn’t post exactly whatever the hell they wanted, what would they post. Something, maybe, that someone else did?

As bizarre as the last couple of statements seem, this is in fact what is happening, only that the pace of change and the brilliance of the visualisation have been able to draw out a lavish curtain all over your eyes. You do not post whatever the hell you want on Facebook, you’re a victim of the mob. In my last post, I beckoned people to analyse their choices of their profile photos, all through the years. Taking this experiment a step further, would be to ask 4 members of a family, active on Facebook, to draw up a collage from their pictures on Facebook and draw one up, using the ones from their yesteryears photo albums. I haven’t commissioned this research, (yet), but I have a feeling where it will get to. The viciousness of the mob!

Pallavi, is right in some way, I believe. Over the years, basis the responses that one has gotten personally from Facebook, jumbled up with the reasons behind the response to your close friends’ posts, one has built up a rulebook of what works and what doesn’t. The objective of Facebook for an individual is actually quite simple — to be able to build up a secondary life for yourself, one that you wished you actually lived, without losing your individuality. If you copy someone too close, you’re out. If you are yourself, well, thanks for playing! But the winners are the ones, who mix fact and fiction in just the correct amounts. Loosely translated, this means its not okay to put Brad Pitt’s photograph as your profile photo, but it is encouraged to post pictures of the 13 fancy meals you had last month, and not a single one of your kitchen at home, where the rest of the 67 came from. If you play the game well enough, you win. What do you win, you ask me? Likes, comments and the adulation of the mob. Which makes you even hungrier, like a blood stained gladiator in an ancient Roman arena, screaming to the crowds and the establishment to throw him some more.

Facebook is a really cool multiplayer game, the only problem is that the players don’t know they’re playing it. Kind of like the Matrix. It’s pretty cool to be an agent, diving in and out, but not so much fun, when you realise that your actual life is, well, the only one that matters. Which is when people get sad. “One problem I have with Facebook is that it shows everyone’s joys but rarely their struggles”. The girl whose post served as the inspiration for the previous post, told me this and I couldn’t help wonder how ironic this was. We all understand the concept of communities — joy multiplies, sadness dissolves. So why then, when we feel sad, disheartened, rejected and dejected, would we not turn to this amazing community to help dissolve our grief. I am at this point talking about actual grief and not, “Oh my poochie [dog] just hurt her ankle. OMG It’s so painful!” Since when did sadness become this fucking personal. It’s broadly exactly opposite of the sentiment that made Walter White hide his cancer from his family for over a month. Well, Walt was concerned about his family so much that he didn’t want to bother them, we’re concerned about our Facebook community so little that its a waste, bothering them.

Think about it. If one of your 1400 friends today, died, and you came to know through an RIP message on Facebook, how would you feel, exactly? My bet is you feel would like scrolling a bit further down, so that you can stink of jealousy cursing why your ex-girlfriend never wore a dress, that short, while she was going out with you. Cause she’s a slut, that’s why! Maybe a sarcastic comment, would be apt on that picture.

And so it continues.

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