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Monday, 28 November 2016

NaBloPoMo Day 28: Of Twitter Trends and Kindness

The latest trend of the day on Twitter is #ShilpaShettyReviews and looks like many Indians on Twitter have suddenly turned into literature experts. Wait, let me explain.

A few days ago, there was a piece of news about a change in the ICSE syllabus to make it more contemporary by including Tintin, Asterix, Amar Chitra Katha, Harry Potter and so on.

Who’s likely to be affected by this decision? Teachers, children and parents, right? So it would have made perfect sense to stick to getting the views of this target audience. Okay, you could have asked eminent educationists, those into educational policy-making and school principals for what they thought of this move.

But one of our oh-so-bright newspapers in Mumbai with stars-in-their-eyes thought it made great news to ask a celebrity for her opinion on the issue. 

On being asked what she thought about this move, actress Shilpa Shetty praised it because of how it would help improve children’s imagination and creativity. Then, she is reported as having commented that "Even Animal Farm should be included as it will teach the little ones to love and care for animals.”

It’s not sure how she picked that book to comment on. In the sense that if she had known what it’s about, she wouldn’t have ever said what she did. Was the book on a random book list that the journo provided? Or did the journalist himself or herself propose the name of that book? Whatever the process, the end result was a gaffe. Because this is what the book is about – which is far, far away from teaching kids to love and care for animals.

Now I wonder if the journo and others who were part of the decision to carry that part of Ms. Shetty’s comment, themselves knew it was a no-brainer. Is that the reason why they didn’t find anything wrong in running that comment? Or was it that they knew and yet, deliberately chose to go with it because it would become a talking point and in the competitive world of journalism, grabbing eyeballs is what counts more than kindness?

Once the piece was published, someone commented about it on Twitter, and it set off a flurry of others tweeting with the hashtag #ShilpaShettyReviews. All India Bakchod prepared a set of quotes drawing similar parallels of what the actress may have said about some other books. Many others on Twitter added their 2 cents of would-be-hilarious-if-only-not-so-unkind comments. 

Not to be left out, news portals carried stories on how the hashtag was trending on Twitter. I’m not repeating those comments here because everyone’s 2 cents put together becomes a huge amount that can be damaging to the psyche of the individual who’s the target. Of course, being a celebrity, Ms. Shetty will have developed her own defenses to cope with such trolling, but I do not wish to compound the damage.

In my opinion, if at all anyone deserves to be trolled, it is the persons who rushed to seek a celebrity’s opinion on something that is not her field of expertise. It shows how star-struck we have become. By trolling the wrong person, we have revealed our depraved sense of humor that finds joy when certain stereotypes are reinforced. 

Indeed, it seems this episode drives home the reversal of that premise of the famous quote from Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” 

Irony, anyone?

NaBloPoMo November 2016


  1. I am fast-losing interest in and patience for trolls. Really, get a life!
    And yes - greatest irony that (and one of my favouritest quotes ever)!

  2. To be honest I have also not read animal farm and went through the wiki when all this noise was being made on twitter ;)


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