In these days of the social media ascendant, is it any wonder that a phenomenon like the “Ice Bucket challenge” is doing the rounds. After all, it’s almost as if the IBC is made for Facebook – you challenge a bunch of your friends while posting a video of you drenching self with cold water. And you can check how many of them have chosen to follow in your footsteps of online exhibitionism. What is lost in the bargain is the charity angle – you are supposed to donate towards ALS research.
What happened to the old adage of not letting your left hand know how generous your right hand is, one that truly characterised charity. The new form of charity seems to be designed for the modern corporate environment – spend a hundred dollars on charity and ten thousand to tell everyone how generous you are.
Is it mindless herd mentality that makes us accept this concept of being tagged? I have given up doing anything as an outcome of being tagged. Why should I feed into this massive electronic guilt complex that is being propagated by a soulless media? Yes, I know some of you have had first hand sorrow with your dealings with ALS. It afflicts people and shatters families. It could happen to me or someone close to me. But by forcing me to do a challenge aren’t you making me a bearer of your guilt? I have lost loved ones to cancer, heart disease and stroke. Should I tag you to make you pay up for that?
The mindlessness of social media is all-pervasive. You let go your reasoning and even stop questioning logic. One example this month has been in the form of a viral Meme that says that August 2014 is special because it has five Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and that it will not happen again for another 800 odd years. It has been passed around as fact by so many people, without anyone bothering to verify it.
How difficult can it be? I scrolled through my calendar and saw that the last time it happened was in 2008 and the next time it will happen is 2025. And the logic is not too difficult to investigate. After all August has 31 days and hence will always have five of any three consecutive days. One in seven of those occasions will be with Friday beginning it. And only a leap year will disturb the cycle. It cannot be so unique. But do any of us question the huge statement below? No, we ‘like’ it and ‘share’ it.
We are ready to believe almost anything we read on the Internet. We forget that it’s people like us who put the stuff there in the first place. There have even been examples of ‘news’ carried by satirical sites ending up as breaking stories in mainline Newspapers, purely because the reporter and his editor have not bothered to read the fine print, question an unbelievable tale or verify from interested parties. Among the first lessons I learnt in the trade was that every story had three sides – the doers’, the bystanders’ and the independent experts’. The Internet has put paid to that rigorous approach at many news desks.
There are others out there who have had enough. The “Rice Bucket challenge” is a good example. It asks you to donate a bucket of rice to the needy. Not toss a bucket of good water over yourself.
But I still object to being tagged, whether it is for this or listing my ten best reads or even which of my friends I like best. I promise to never tag anyone either, so you won’t be subject to my playing with boredom impinging on your life in any way. After all, I wouldn’t want you to switch off from social media altogether, would I?