Letter writing is dead. The sleek mobile has been toppled from its perch. The formal e-mails have had their day. Cyber space, the new canvass for communication with varied hues now provides a platform to sneer and to cheer alike.
Of all the seductions of web, perhaps the most enticing for the angry user is that it allows fury to be funneled via the virtual tunnel. And since controversy sells, the shortest route to fame is put your foot in your angry mouth, albeit in style. A fuming damsel from the south became the uncrowned queen of blogdom, when she threatened to shove coconuts down the Delhi boys until coir sprouted from you know where. Having initiated a slanging match on her blog, it was easy to lure the argumentative ones in a free for all. The national daily rushed to publish the blog post in an attempt to fuel the controversy and make hay while the angry opined.
Come to think of it, it is the abuser who falls from the high pedestal, not the abused. That brings me to the question: Is cyber rage aiding in catharsis, or is it creating an abusive intolerant society?
Like any other the web is not infallible. More so when one is entering a world of strangers, and is not quite ready for it. Two thirteen year olds living in a metro typed, ‘What’s up?’ to initiate a chat with their Principal. After a while, they ended the chat with, ‘F***k off’ and ‘Go to hell’. A furious Principal suspended both the boys.
Lately, cyber space has become a favorite arena for anonymous abusive punches and slanging matches. The web becomes even more precarious when it provides a platform to shout the loudest without any accountability. Rewind the reel to your hostel days when we considered thrashing the warden by throwing a blanket on him, under the cover of darkness. Veiled in a mask, it is easy to vent anger against establishment. That explains the ugly graffiti staring at us from the innards of elevators, monuments and public toilets. The scribblers cannot be held accountable even though they draw graphic anatomies with the names of their lusted or hated ones. The lack of accountability provides a fillip to coward frustrated souls.
The cyber anger is mostly directed against celebrities, powerful and of course the favorite whipping boys – politicians. As a simple mortal I am yet to receive a malicious comment or abuse, but then I have carefully avoided contentious topics. The sweet bouquets will almost immediately become toxic brickbats if the topic of discussion is controversial. No matter what I write on the ‘reservation policy’ in education, or on religion, a section of readers is bound to get offended. Dissent is acceptable but abuse is not. Take the most recent events of deification of a mild mannered but strong willed Gandhian. If you are not in agreement with the popular sentiment on the street then you will be doused with vitriol in cyber space.
The anonymous acerbic voices become the judge, jury and the defendant and have moments of collective catharsis on the web. Even at the risk of bristling like an old crow, I am concerned about the age of rage. Abusive slanging matches on twitter, blogs, and chat rooms are signs of an ailing society. Above all it has to be said that anonymous abuse is the weapon of the vulgar; not the civilized.