A few days ago, I was spanked hard for speaking the truth. Not the kind of spanking you got when you contradicted your mother by telling the correct age in your childhood, not that kind of spanking you got when your teacher realized that you were laughing out loud at her new dress, and certainly not a 50 shaded spanking. I got a social media spanking. Though this spanking doesn’t hurt one’s skin, but it certainly hurts what’s within. This is a verbal spanking and there is no defense against it, when troller after troller goes for your literary if not literal throat.
Like I said, I was spanked for speaking the truth. When someone has posted “Steve Job’s last words” saying that Mr. Jobs found himself to be a twisted human during his last days while exhorting people to value relationships more than money, I objected. I said that those were not his last words and I substantiated the same with lots of evidence. I posted document after document, which showed that his last words were “oh! Wow, oh! Wow, oh! Wow” and not a lengthy discourse about an unfulfilled life of his.
And people got annoyed. They got really annoyed.
Here’s how I got spanked:
“What if Steve didn’t say those words? The message is right, isn’t it?
“why do you have to point out every time there is a mistake in the posts?
“why don’t you just read and leave?”
And then even more… “Shut the FU!”
“Stop showing off your useless and non-existent intellect!”
“Can’t you allow somebody to speak without judging whether what they say is right or wrong?”
“douche bag!” (now I don’t know what that means)
….. Ramesh left…..
…… Rahul left……
Every group in the social media has one Fun-Spoiler like me. They probe and they say the right things, which will make everyone feel uncomfortable and unpleasant. Most people in a group would like to believe that there is no cheating in sports, that the political parties are really different, and that there are really no conspiracies anywhere. The Fun-Spoilers call themselves Truth Activists or some such lame thing and spoil all the fun.
Consider the following: It felt good to believe that there really is a reason for staying up at night during Maha Siva ratri festival. It felt good to believe that Indian Army built a human bridge to allow people to pass. It felt good to believe that Hanman Gada was found in excavations. It also felt wonderful to tell people that sharing a message in whatsapp will give them some free talk time on their phone. Giant skeletons found, three headed snakes, the world’s best award given to our national anthem, India shining on a Diwali night in NASA pictures, coughing to prevent acute heart attack when alone, a new device to clean the heart blood vessels without stent or bypass, a magic cure for cancer, Indians building lotuses in Baalbek, Turkey, a heart surgeon discovering God in a dying patients heart chambers….. The list of things we shared happily without checking whether they are facts or not is endless. But, they made us happy.
But then there are the fun spoilers. They are everywhere, but they are the minority. They believe in digging uncomfortable facts, they excel in disrobing the myths exposing the ugly and unwanted reality. Who cares if Lord Macaulay didn’t say the things that social media tells us he said? Who cares that Indian soldiers never hoisted a flag at Iwo Jima? Who the hell is really bothered if Bhagat Singh was not hanged on the Valentine’s day? If the messages promote nationalism, are they not welcome? Why should we bother whether they are right or wrong? Does it really matter?
But then, it does matter. The things that the false messages are supposed to uphold –like the national pride – will never benefit from propaganda. Not in this era of inexorable connectivity. The truth will be revealed and once it does, the very false message that is supposed to buttress a sacred concept will turn its nemesis. The other problem is that these messages will erode our trust and ability to believe. We will end up not believing anyone. Or anything. We should expose the truth to help the sacred things like our culture, identity and perhaps national pride. We should expose the truth to preserve our convictions and our beliefs and our ability to believe. We should expose the truth because ….. well, do we need to substantiate the need to expose the truth?