Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pay per clique

Dear Mr. Vir Sanghvi,

This issue is nearly five days old and I am opining now because I feel the need to. What's strange is, when I first read your post about how the bloggers are the bad people of the Internet, I wondered why you were bringing up an issue that was roughly five years old. Nobody complains about bloggers anymore. For some strange reason, you seem to have just discovered them.

Don't get me wrong, I am barely a blogger, but I read a lot of them, and I will tell you why. For that, I'll have to go back to my origins --

Like in any educated middle-class household, as a part of my education, I was forced to watch the news and read the newspaper, to inculcate a love for current affairs, opinion and language. In the evenings, we were forced to sit in front of the TV as Salma Sultan and Rini Khanna (née Simon) told us what happened in the world that day, with a certain amount of indifference. Once a week, on Friday nights, I was allowed to stay up late and watch Prannoy Roy on "The World this Week" (Loy Mendonza's title track gives me gooseflesh.) Back then, Hindi was Hindi, and English was english, we were told to respect language. For analysis, we had to read the newspaper or magazines..

All this reading came with the strong belief that the people who were writing in the newspapers were qualified to comment and were the best people to do so. That they wouldn't write just to please us (or please anyone, for that matter). Having never seen their faces, and content with those little caricatures (by RK Laxman) accompanying their pieces, we put our blind faith in these could've-been-pseudonymous writers. To be honest, to me, Jug Suraiya never felt like a real name, but it didn't matter. I liked reading what he wrote.
Similarly, when movie reviewer gave a movie his "stars", we assumed that his judgment was right, because he knew what he was talking about. Even if we liked a movie he didn't, we assumed we'd missed something. We would perhaps not even admit that we liked it. In fact, for a long long time, I barely blogged because I always assumed my opinions were wrong.

Times have since changed. (Times has since changed too. Heh.) In the papers, instead of Mukul Sharma's Mindsport, we have "news" about Konkona Sen Sharma's latest party appearance. On Live TV, for current affairs, we have a journo shouting at us from outside the gates of the Bigg Boss household. In studio, for opinions, the moderator is shouting at the panel of analysts, all in some undecipherable mishmash of a language. Hell, now the media people are even shouting on twitter. Amidst all this, we, the then middle class, now haunt silent spaces to find good opinions and good writing. We find this noise to be unbearable and it seems easier for us to ask our friends for what they think. I don't remember when was the last time I read a "valid" movie review. These days I just ask a couple of my friends, read a couple of blogs -- people whose taste matches mine. Even if I don't agree with them, I read it for all the wit and good writing. I also take it as my responsibility to tell them of my opinion, sans fear. I usually put in some effort to articulate my thoughts. You could call it clique formation, you could call it forming a network of people you can trust.

It works fine for me as a reader, but why does it upset you?

I don't know what your exact grouse is, but it seems to be one of these: that the bloggers don't take your opinions seriously, or that that the bloggers are not qualified to opine, or that you are no longer the elite, or that we've found our friends who don't talk "at" us, and we prefer taking a weighted average of their opinions.

This was our little party. We hung out here, in our crowded little dark rooms, happy by ourselves. You seem to have entered the place right now, breaking the fourth wall, and are upset at us for having a party.


PS: Am not sure if Mindsport is still published. Can someone please tell me?
PPS: Other better posts on this topic: Manu, Lekhni and this for all the revie-wit: Manu, again.


Anonymous said...

My thoughts could not get better words than you have put in this post !!

I am so happy to see a bunch of like minded people !!

Lekhni said...

Bigg Boss is now current affairs? On the one hand, it's amusing, but I fear for the next generation. Are there even programmes like Surabhi anymore?

Your mention of MindSport brings back memories. From what I can see, it seems to have breathed its last n Dec 2008, and Mukul Sharma's website - seems to be infected with viruses and whatnot :(

Mo said...

Anon - Thanks. Which is why we hang out here.

Lekhni - Yesterday's breaking news was Sania Mirza'a breakup, I'm told. There is nothing to watch on tv anymore. But the real heartbreak was when the news media started chasing trps.

Yep. Endgamed. :(

Kartik said...

It truly is a flat world in all aspects. Radio shows have Facebook pages,film stars are blogging, and tweets are making headlines. Crisis has set on Middle Earth. Much can be said, but nothing that already hasn't. But I will leave with a homage to his show. This post is 'Custom made for Vir' and he can shove it up his ... (Am i allowed to say or would that effect the TRP?)

The warrior in me said...

"Haha!"- that one made me think. I wonder how Vir Sanghvi would react to your post if he ever laid sight on it!

I had no idea until i hit the link button that this issue even existed, so thanks for updating me there :)

I'd say, maybe, he must have come across a few too many blogs thrashing journalists and media-people for not doing justice to their profession lately and so, felt the anger well up in him whereby he felt compelled to slap them where it hurts most.

I guess he didn't realize that he'd spoken to a whole community out there, while intending to keep his remarks restricted to a few.

As for me- i think blogging is great. To put it simply- it makes me happy. No, that does not mean i'm hiding behind some dark cloak, sending out hateful messages about the world and it's people; but it does mean (like you very rightly said) that i voice my opinion (which may or may not count to anyone else) without the fear of being judged on that basis, for what may seem like a lifetime.

My blog is definitely my space that brightens up my day, albeit for a short time, making me feel heard. It helps me come clean without feeling sic about it. THAT cannot be wrong.

Can't believe i typed so much here- could have made it a new post on my blog!!

Had a good good read. Thanks :)

Ashwin said...

Ah, The World This Week! Not able to understand most of the Hindi programming (Surabhi being the exception), this was one of the few (English) DD programs I used to watch.

Sigh, I sometimes wish the world were simpler and someone else dictated opinions for us :-)

Mo said...

Kartik - Nothing one won't feel strongly about. BTW, Can I take the "shove it up" bit as a compliment?

Warrior - It definitely is a non-issue. Am glad you like blogging. A complain I've heard from most people is that the old bloggers aren't blogging enough.

Ashwin - What I truly miss, is the respect for the language back then. Good Hindi is nearly dead. At least you have a chance of listening to good Kannada.

As for the opinions, for me, weighted average is the way to go :)

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