The new us

Too much has been written about Tarun Tejpal. And I’m not about to get into my definition of what constitutes ‘rape’. I leave that to the Parrikar dude and the Goa police.

What I’m interested in, is us – the ‘new us’, the Twitterrati. In peace time, we are tweety birds in a cage. But if we smell even a whiff of controversy, we become the Twitter Taliban. The new moral police.

Some things are a given in this case and I have no quarrel with them:

The point is the Tehelka editor’s behaviour in the hotel elevator, was more than ‘a serious lapse of judgement’.

A woman has been wronged, no question.

Also, the BJP are predictably seeking revenge, a bunch of Tarun’s ex-bumchums want their five minutes of fame and the media brigade want their ‘breaking story’. I get that. But us? The ‘new’ us. What’s our axe to grind?

I understand that there is anger. But what I’m seeing is overboard outrage.

Intense and scathing self righteousness.

When did our view become so strident and self important?

When did we mount this moral high horse?

We’ve made Twitter our private courtroom and we, the self-appointed jury.

Social media has become the soap box of self-appointed sentinels of ‘right and wrong’. We need just 140 characters to destroy a man’s character.

We’ve launched into Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhary, like vultures. They are after all, ‘soft’ targets. (‘Hard’ targets like Modi and his ‘snoopgate’ surveillance we stay clear of). We’ve lynched them publicly, we’ve turned a forum into a firing squad and when we’ve feasted on them enough, we swiftly move onto our next kill — in this case Aarushi and the Talwars.

We want to sink our teeth into the next big story, feast on the details, spew forth our vitriolic views, and today we have the platform. In an earlier, non-digital age, we ingested information on our own — we fully thought through our views, untainted by anyone else’s bias — to be discussed, debated, disagreed with at the most. But they were individually ours.

Today Twitter has given us strength in numbers.

We rely on the approval of others, and once we have that validation, we continue our witch hunt. We then hand the baton of vitriol to the next messenger. And then we desecrate, we destroy, just demolish, emboldened by our mob mentality. The viral virus spreads like a forest fire.

We’ve got to turn the searchlights inwards — ask ourselves, when did we become so utterly vicious in our voyeurism.

We are e-executioners. Long before the courts decide if Tejpal gets to go to jail, we’ve already convicted him. Who needs a legal judgement when you have ours.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.¬†

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