‘Pass it on, pass it on! Share, share!’ These are not pleasant and gentle exhortations by smiling people. When you stop to think about it, these are nothing less than embedded instructions issued by stressed-out people. This is our world of social media, in a tearing hurry. Free advice and bumper-sticker wisdom are paraded for our viewing. And there is not enough time for all that we have to see and pass on. Everybody is a Confucius in social media, dispensing wisdom forever. We cannot resist advising, chipping in with our two cents’ worth. Our thoughts have no shelf-life and they have to be expressed instantly. If I had listened to half the advice I’m dishing out now, I’d have been president of a country, instead of my current status as administrator of a WhatsApp group comprising five family members.
Speed is of the essence in social media. Forwarding messages without fully reading them is the default thing to do because once you get the drift of what the posts are about, there is no point reading the damn thing fully, wasting precious seconds. Just post the link. And when the group admin cautions you about the trashy content, you can always take refuge under the escape clause, ‘It's only a forward’.
The number of social media-users worldwide runs into billions, and the number is growing geometrically by the hour. Move over, mere mortals. The gods are taking over, or rather, their self-appointed divine publicity agents. They assure you that the gods will bless you in cash and kind if you share their picture in seven seconds (the gods are in a hurry too, it seems, having to make up for lost airtime over all these centuries — they just didn’t have a forum). What a comedown for the almighty, straddling infinity and eternity, to have to nit-pick in seconds.
We can only presume our gods on Facebook resemble their images posted. We have, by default, sourced these images from the calendar.
If we, pathetic mortals, are finicky about our Aadhaar pictures, then there is a chance that the gods might have a thing or two to say about their images on social media. Cut out the garlands, they might say, offload half the jewellery, ditch the halo, knock off the crown, change the serious look, and, so on.
We haven’t yet heard from the gods; which is so far, so good. The reasons why we need to share the divine images urgently is that money, and/or good news is waiting to arrive at our doorstep shortly, only a ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ away. This is free and instantaneous, that’s the main attraction.
Be warned, there is negative scoring also: if you don’t forward the images it in the specified number of seconds, then, well… only god can help you. It's not a threat, but you get the hint. I am inclined to attribute some of my recent debacles to my not having shared the divine pictures within the stipulated number of seconds. So I browse Facebook with my eye on the Share button and a stopwatch held ready. I share in five seconds now, with a safety margin of two seconds. The good news and money are on the way, I'm sure. I'm holding my breath.
Now, one can skip the physical visits to places of worship. The gods have arrived online, readily available on our mobile phones and laptops. If only social media had been available a couple of millennia earlier, the gods wouldn’t have had to plod around on foot, preaching and holding forth on hour-long lectures. They would have posted their thoughts online, asking us to click on the link to their blog, and listen to their mann ki baath.
We have to thank the founders of social media for providing a forum for the gods. For them is reserved a special place in heaven.