There is a guy who sends an SMS to me every morning. He used to send one every Monday, but now thanks to being complimented by a rather attractive friend of ours (men will be boys even when they are men), he is much inspired and lets loose daily. Yesterday he was extra prolific and sent me two. (I wonder who complimented him yesterday.) Needless to say, these are not mere text messages, these are pearls of wisdom/essence of humanity/distillations of spirituality (no, the last one does not mean whisky or vodka but you are close, very close). They are designed to inspire me and others to: a. Lead a happy life. b. Be confident. c. Love humanity. d. Be humble. e. Make me call my mother. f. Etc. I wonder what drives people to do this? One reason could be the cellular phone service providers of course – these days you can choose a pre-paid plan where you get to send 500 text messages free every day. I think all of us should buy one of these ‘message packs’ and send 500 messages to Raja every day asking him to confess his 2G crimes. I am sure he will confess just to stop his phone from ringing. Or vibrating, if he is that kind of guy. If the message pack strategy fails, we must all subscribe to the offer from a service provider who is advertising that we can now make calls for zero paise per minute. (How can any service provider afford it? Simple – they bought 2G spectrum really, really cheap.) Armed with the power of free calls we should all call Raja at all times of day and night and ask him:
You: “Sir, yourself Raja, sir?
You: Congratulations sir, we are offering you a black credit card with limit of 3000 crore and zero per cent interest.”
Sorry. We should call Raja and say, “Mr. Raja, tell us all.”
But I am being frivolous, which according to serious people is an ‘f’ word. So let us get serious. These inspiring ‘forwards’ (for me that is an ‘f’ word), are a bigger threat when sent through the thing that will run the whole world soon. Did you say iPad? Wrong answer, Apple will collapse when Jobs quits and Cook takes over. (Corny joke alert: What will the headlines say when Steve quits Apple? A: Steve without Jobs. Corny joke alert 2: What will they say when Apple collapses under Cook? A: How to Cook Apple.)
The f’wards (short form for forwards), are a bigger threat on the internet. If you have been on the internet for long it means your company is footing the bill. Sorry, if you have been on the internet for long you must have received links to inspirational stories, pictures, videos and PowerPoint presentations showing people who have overcome adversity, handicaps, illnesses and generally spread happiness, joy, peace, love, forgiveness, spirituality and AIDS, sorry, aid. These f’wards are usually titled, 'Amazing! True Story!' And end by telling you how lucky you are to have what you have so why are you complaining and to make the most of what you have. Dude, what do you think I am doing? I am taking what I have and raising a family and paying the mortgage and buying petrol for the car so I can keep up with the Joneses who are called Sharmas or Khannas or some such in India. Why, last month I didn’t stop buying onions either! Though I must admit that I have always used the office internet including for downloading disgusting videos like a full Himesh song. I was younger then and everybody was doing it, okay? But the question is, what kind of person sits and makes those inspirational PowerPoint presentations? And where do they get that music from? (Possible answer – they record it on their phones while stuck in a lift.) I mean, what inspires them? Do they get to office and google 'random nature/baby/dolphin pictures' followed by 'random quotes about all of the above' and feed the results to software that automatically marries the words and pictures? And do these guys quickly minimise the browser when the boss appears? “Working on the figures for your annual sales presentation sir- PowerPoint is such a blessing.” The internet is truly a strange animal and it seems to do strange things to people who have too much free time and free access.
And then, have you ever wondered who starts these chains of video f’wards? By the same logic, it would be guys with really, really fast internet connections in their offices. “Umm-hmm, everyone’s gone home and now I can claim a dinner voucher and cab fare home! And of course, log on to youtube and make the world a better place. There, I have typed in ‘videos to make the world a better place’ and hit ‘search’! Huh, what’s this? A TV commercial for zero paise per minute calls? Let me try, ‘How to overcome a handicap’. Wow! A ‘Pam Anderson promotes silicon to boost your confidence video!’ I will watch that for a bit; I guess the world can wait for a bit.”
If nothing else, we must appreciate the patience of this guy (or girl). The amount of videos they must be watching to zero in on one that is exactly right for everyone in their contact list must be enormous. Truly, the mind boggles at the mere thought.
Or is there a more sinister explanation? Like men and women collecting and sending f’wards round the clock like Santa’s (no, not the one in Sardarji jokes), elves in BPOs (short form for Bangalore Person’s Offices) set up by channels who have guys curing men and women with a jab of the forefinger on the forehead? Makes me wonder what these miracle men with the Gift of the Gab, sorry I meant, Gift of the Jab are doing on TV channels, jabbing the infirm in jamborees held in large stadia and studios booked by paying high rents. Shouldn’t they sit in hospital OPDs and cure the world’s health problems once and for all?
And so my bafflement at the ways of this world continues. But I must confess – maybe my friends’ messages and videos really work. After all, they did inspire this post.