Monday, September 1, 2014

The Games We Play

Entertainment Sites: PlayBuzz, QuizzDoo



Help me find a word for what I am feeling. It’s neither resentment nor annoyance. Not even embarrassment. Frankly, reading about the ten favorite books of all my friends has been hugely overwhelming. Who are these unknown authors with complicated names that I haven’t read? And why should non-fiction readers feel like an outsider in this tagging game? I know of folks who detest reading fiction but enjoy reading mythology, history and other books on ideas and idealism. Going by the somewhat pretentious social media tradition, everyone mentions Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Haruki Murakami, and I am having second thoughts about writing. At the risk of being sidelined by my writer friends, I publicly admit that I couldn’t go beyond the first chapter of ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’. 
There, I said it.
Wonder how Chetan became a bestseller when most image conscious folks on Facebook refuse to admit reading CB. They will admit reading TinTin or Champak, but reading Chetan is like alighting from a rickshaw in the foyer of a five star hotel. Tacky!
Anyway, now I know how Penny (The Big Bang Theory) feels when her scientist friends examine the perturbative amplitudes in super-symmetric theories, leading to a re-examination of the ultraviolet properties of multiloop super gravity using modern twister theory.
Since the tagging tide was threatening to drown my self-worth, it was best to admit that I belong to the low-brow intellectual club of 'Cha Cha Cha'. Champak, Chandamama, and Chacha Chaudhary. 

So, after going through the gratitude lists, book lists, videos of rice bucket challenge and bowel movements of my friends, I gravitate towards activities that make me feel better. Games on entertainment sites like QuizzDoo and PlayBuzz tug at my heart - begging me to click on options to find my real age, my past life boyfriend and my IQ.
Like the movies, the internet offers escape from the mundane, and I happily fall for the trap in order to run away from boredom and that feeling of Penny-ish inadequacy. Moreover, when your forty year old friend posts a status update saying, ‘I got 32, what about you?’ you are enticed. I have been avoiding such lame distractions, but  the kid in me wants to feel good. So I click on a few options and get Elvis Presley as a boyfriend in my previous life. I can visualize the dazed look on my mother's face, but the answer makes me feel like a rock star.
Then I move on to, ‘How would you look like when you are old?’ The adorable thing that the internet is, I get a picture of Salma Hayek. Considering the lady is almost my age, I am hooked.
Encouraged, I click on, ‘What is the first body part people notice about you?’
Now, this one plumbs the depths of stupidity. Anyway, logic is the last thing on the mind of the site developer. Why should people notice a body part? How about noticing the invisible - intellect or humility? Having lost faith in my intellect after reading the ‘top ten book list’ of my friends, I continued clicking on various options. Surprise. I get Angelina Jolie’s lips. Given that these sites are US based, I wasn’t exactly expecting Anushka Sharma’s lips, but this was a humongous lie by any stretch of imagination. Amazing how we delude ourselves in believing that beauty is goodness.

Coming back to the book business, someone at Amazon and Flipkart is laughing all the way to the bank. Next social media fad could be mentioning top ten movies that come to mind, and tagging ten friends to list the same. Kindly note, you can’t publicly mention any Govinda movie unless you wish to be ostracized on social media. Or wish to nurse a black eye and a broken jaw.


65 comments:

  1. Haha... social media, thy name is pretentiousness :)) it's nothing but a platform to show other people how much better we are than them, and our lives our than theirs.

    PS: I cannot, for the life of me, wade through Murakami, or Marquez, or even Ayn Rand for that matter. So help me. :P

    My latest post: Click here

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    1. ...our lives are* than theirs...

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    2. Thanks dear, glad I have company.
      :)

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  2. Agree with you. Sometimes it gets on the nerves actually. That's the reason I did not tag anyone nor did I do the gratitude list but that doesn't make me superior or intelligent because I do play some games to get over boredom. And I would love to mention here that with great difficulty was I able to read through half the book of "Love in the times of Cholera." To each her own :)

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    1. Now I have stopped responding to the tags by people who I know are into Tintin but will not shy away from mentioning books they haven't read. To each his/her own. Eggzactly.

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  3. If only we were as pretty, witty, amazing and our social life as hectic as we'd want the world to believe. . And Garcia is not my cup of tea either and neither is Milan Kundera. Not that I'm saying I love Chetan Bhagat. For a chatpata read, give me Anuja Chauhan any day.

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    1. Purba - I like Anuja Chauhan too - and Yes she is chatpata :-)

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    2. Anuja rules. Purba, I was pissed by someone who tagged me and mentioned some heavy duty novels.

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    3. Alka, a lady who tagged me not only mentioned heavy duty books and authors but gave immensely highbrow comments on why she likes these books - made me feel intellectually inferior I tell you :-P

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    4. Saw your comment on Rickies post and uploaded this one ASAP.
      Jokes apart, I was feeling guilty about Love In The Time of Cholera. It's on my book shelf and God knows I tried.
      But failed.

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    5. I haven't read Love in the time of Cholera but I have read his One Hundred Years of Solitude, it was a different world that he built in that one and I appreciated the fact that it could read so well despite being a translation from Spanish to English..

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  4. Here I say it out loud again - I could not go beyond the first few pages of 100 Years of Solitude and I do not understand the hullabaloo with respect to Paulo Coelho. I was also intrigued to see so many books whose names I have not even heard of. So I went about town wiki-ing about them ;)

    If you see my list on FB, it has more Bengali books than English. Guess, reading books in my mother tongue during my formative years shaped me quite a bit.

    And I love doing those quizzes, especially the ones on which character in ____ are you. I love manipulating answers to get Hermione Granger or Danaerys Targaryen :) We are all child-like when it comes to these illogical stuff on FB.

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    1. Good to see you here Debosmita.
      I am sure you were honest but we do have several pretentious people on social media.

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  5. I have a confession - I bought Love in the Time of Cholera but in-spite of repeated attempts - Haven't gone beyond a few pages :-)
    I was tagged four times in the Book tag and did it because . you know ... I am polite that way :-)
    But If I see even one more gratitude or book tag I shall scream !

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    1. Ruch, initially I followed all the tag rules but being tagged everyday for my book list, gratitude list etc is testing my politeness threshold.

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  6. Another fun read, Alka! I know what you mean. I too had my moments of inadequacy after reading those book lists, because I haven't read a single Harry Potter book nor any of Ayn Rand's or other 'famous' authors everyone is supposed to have read. I haven't read Marquez either. (And of course, haven't read any book of Chetan Bhagat too, seriously. God promise! Except watching the movie 3 Idiots but that shouldn't count, I think.) But I still played the game (in my own way) after three people tagged me, maybe for a bit of fun and timepass and maybe for simply being "nice" to the taggers. But I refused to extend the game further by tagging others! Maybe because I didn't want to know what more books I haven't read :) And I think after reading your post I will also avoid the games about body parts and aging!

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    1. Initially the tagging was fun Beloo, but it has now gone viral. And everyone is so well read. Awesome!
      :) good to see you here, we connect in more ways than one.

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  7. You should have read my list and felt at home because horror of horrors I mentioned only novels including Sidney Sheldon :-). And I didn't tag anyone. I liked Rickie's list the best. I think this tag quickly descended into how lofty an author one can mention.

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    1. Rickie's was epic. He does it so sweetly. I think he should experiment with serious satire.

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  8. Three cheers for you Alka!! Only God knows whose brain thinks of such tagging games.I was tagged twice, but I responded to only one and did not tag any one else.To tell you the truth, I had a complex while reading the names of some books mentioned by my friends!! I won't say anything further.

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    1. You need not say anything Ma. Good to see you here and so glad you liked this.

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  9. I loved this!
    I think you already might have an idea of what I think about Top 10 lists!

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    1. Your top ten list was epic. Even the one you did last year stayed with most of us.
      I dare all the Marukami lovers to match the same!

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  10. You mean they really ARE authors and those books really exist in the real world? :) I still cannot mention Chetan Bhagat in any ten books that I have read and I have mentioned up to 30 by now. There are some 30 people who ought to feel very happy that I refrained from passing on the tag :)

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    1. Frankly, I would love to know about your top ten. But when Tintin lovers begin to show off, it irks me no end.

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    2. I read down-market fiction by those standards, Alka :) I prefer my fiction with characters having real problems and not making a cold in the head a subject matter of societal angst OR those who make me go dizzy trying to figure out exactly what they are saying (pea-brained that I am) :) Tough call to list the top ten, though - I have read too many. Off the top of my head I can list 1. The complete William Shakespeare 2. The World of Psmith/Mr.Mulliner/Jeeves by PG Wodehouse 3. Collected works of Saki 4. Collected works of Oscar Wilde 5. Collected Short Stories of O.Henry 6. Collected Short stories of Guy de Maupassant 7. Bertrand Russell's essays 8. The Count of Monte Cristo and the Three Musketeers series (Twenty years after, Louise de la Valiere, Vicomte de Bragelonne......) of Alexandre Dumas 9. Dune series by Frank Herbert 10. Lord of the Rings by Tolkien.

      I have at various times enjoyed westerns - Louis L'Amour and Oliver Strange primarily, whodunits - Holmes, Poirot, Inspector Alleyn......, espionage - McLean, Forbes, Helen McInnes, Ludlum, Clancy, Baldacci.... and so on and so on. I see that I have missed out on the Don Camillo books in my list above. Now I read a lot of SF and Fantasy.

      I must admit that i HAVE read GG Marquez, Paulo Coelho and all. But they certainly are not my staple diet and I keep away as far as possible. My pov is that I read to be entertained; to be made to think makes it seem too much like work :)

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    3. That's quite an impressive list. I have to admit, I haven't read many authors. And like you, I read to be entertained. My husband, on the other hand reads to gain knowledge, think, introspect and regurgitate at leisure. Which is why he enjoys non fiction.

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  11. What is the problem with Chetan Bhagat? People think if they mention him their coolness quotient reduces to a miserable low! And yes even I couldn't recognize those Italian names of authors and I wonder how my friends read those books. They must be really good readers. I feel exactly like Penny. Or like Joey, when Monica and Ross discuss some school joke.

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    1. Surprising how Chetan is the Yo Yo of the literary world. No one likes to mention his books. Not even those who have made him a best seller.
      Good to see you here Anita. Truly.

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  12. I feel so happy for not succumbing to the tagging games being played on the FB and am in agreement with you when it comes to the choice of books ! The similarity of titles some how gives a miss to some great all time authors like Charles Dickens, C Rajgopalachari, Satyajit Ray, Gurcharan Das and many more:) A lovely post, Alka!

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  13. Pffft, this post clearly summarized my views on this topic as well. For someone who reads light fiction for a pastime (and quite voraciously and in great numbers as well), this particular tag is something that I am never going to take up for fear of being labeled a 'frivolous reader' and somebody who has not read Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Murakami (hope I got the spellings right)

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    1. Ahhaa...that was a sigh of relief. So glad you echo my thoughts. And you are one of the most knowledgeable bloggers around.

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  14. Thank God I haven't been tagged, yet. And btw, if we all have been saying that we don't like heavy duty stuff, then who is actually reading it?

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    1. You haven't? Unbelievable. BTW, loved your latest post about your name.

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    2. ha ha :D ya unbelievable. I am spared. Thank you :)

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  15. LOL! This was a good one Alka. Well I am one of those who reads both Pulp Fiction as well as Murakami and Marquez :) But frankly I do not see why anyone should be bothered by anybody's list. To each his own. Just like I might prefer dal makhani over dal tadka, there might be someone who despises both. I think it all boils down to individual experiences and tastes.
    I saw this thread going on about Ayn Rand and how wrong the Philosophy she 'propagates' in her books was. I did not participate in the conversation for the very reason I mentioned above "To each his own". While there are people slamming her around, I know others who have been able to streamline their lives because of her books.

    But that was about books in general, about these tags, frankly I do not like them. I just do not understand what purpose they serve other than wasting time. Most people will not read through those lists and it will not make any difference to your life either. These tags are one of the banes of social media that I just cannot take a liking to.

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    1. You are one of the few bloggers who are very well read. Ruchira, Amit, Ritu and Suresh are others I can think of.
      However, we have many pretentious folks on social media. They are the ones who grind my gears.

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    2. You know what... I am rather dumb when it comes to these things, I actually believed that what people put up is actually genuine :( I have a long way to go in the world of social media....

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  16. Ha ha ha! I know what you mean! If only our lives were as perfect as we pretend on Facebook. Coming to this challenge - it has been a terrible blow to my self importance and confidence as a self-proclaimed book worm. Friends who tagged me were so well read! I will always flee from Gabriel García Márquez, heaven knows I tried. And I've had to Google Shirley Ann Grau! What shame!
    I love Ayn Rand, but Rowling too! I loved Thousand Splendid Suns! I worship Tagore and Ray! Most of my favorite books are in Bengali! I even think they are enough well written to be considered as world classics (if only someone took the effort of translation)! I still always carry a book with me, because the thought of having a book with me comforts me in times of difficulties! But after reading the list of my friends' favorite books - I am feeling I am rather pretentious in my love of books! Right now I am running away from this challenge with my tail between my legs! Will come back when and if I can find it in me to read through the books they said they read and loved!

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    1. We have different tastes Rajrupa. My husband doesn't enjoy fiction but loves reading books by historians, economist, autobiographies etc. But the pretentious ones tagging people irks me no end.

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  17. I have not read many modern authors after Ayn Rand,Danielle steel and a few more.I just finished Amish's two of a trilogy and frankly i don't feel like buying the third one.
    And fb?The less said the better.

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    1. I haven read Amish, Indu.
      There are all kinds of folks on FB. Some are there only because everyone is there.

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  18. I see these book lists also on blogs being passed on. I think I have been tagged too. If you had read my post on love of books, you'd find that I don't have any of the worthies mentioned in it. I had loved Ayn Rand as a teen but am not sure I can read her now :) Bestsellers and thrillers were part of my teen reading, no more. As for social media, well, I have no comments. Loved this post, Alka.

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    1. So so glad you loved this. Coming from someone who is a veteran and a purist, that is high praise.
      Like you, I seldom read fiction now.

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  19. I don't know why, in my friendlist, many ppl. have mentioned Ayn rand, but I didn't like Atlas Shrugged. Her philosophy is irritating, to me at least. But she is a good storyteller.

    Destination Infinity

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    1. Maybe because that is the only name they remembered! :)

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  20. To each his own - Just because someone has listed some weird books which I have not read cannot be a measuring parameter of my intelligence. Tagging games only create complexes. Better to be rid of them

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  21. Sigh! Interesting post, Alka - The games people play on social networking site :) Looking at the writers that were mentioned on some of those lists, I felt like an ignoramus; But then again, who knows if they have ACTUALLY read them ? :) I suppose each one to their own.

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    1. Sid, I wrote this after I got tagged for a third time in one day. And among those who tagged me was a guy who was clearly fibbing about his list.

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  22. All the books I mentioned where read long back since currently I have actually given up reading books because of work. YES!
    And I am guilty for tagging and being tagged.
    I play almost all the 'HOW WILL YOU DIE?' 'WHICH CELEBRITY DO YOU LOOK LIKE' quizzes :D

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    1. You shouldn't be guilty. It all started in good faith but soon became a pretentious game when random folks began tagging friends.

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  23. Same here. I haven't even heard the names of books my friends are mentioning in that list. All I say is thank you and that I will use their list as future reference. And I am one person who can say it anywhere that I adore Chetan Bhagat. I have read his earlier books and I respect that man. About those games, I only enjoy when it says nice things about me. Btw, Elvis as a boyfriend, how cool is that!

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    1. Ha ha, yes boy friend in my previous life. Maybe I was a US citizen, back then.
      Some folks live a pretentious life on social media.

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  24. I actually had fun coming up with my 10 because it gave me a chance to think about the books that affected me...Calvin and Hobbes being among them! As Seeta says, to each his or her own! Why so much patta about what others post and whether they have actually read those books or not?! :)

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  25. Th concept is great. Just like the ice bucket challenge. But sometimes it becomes a fad.
    This was a fun take Roshni. Even I thought about some books and authors that have stayed with me.

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  26. Normally after reading your post, I directly go to comment. I honestly don't care to read about other comments. Somehow for this one, I read most of the comments and was nodding my head :) I enjoyed doing the gratitude tag but I don't think I would have done the book tag. You know it's hard to say and judge what books one read. I have read a couple of auto biographies when I was a teen and I read children's books as an adult. So...where do I stand? Am I well read? I know people who love Ayn Rand and those who call her a piece of crap. And CB, I never knew it was a status thing to say that you hate him. I read a couple of his books and didn't find it worth reading another...may be he did a great job in other books...but didn't want to waste my time.

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    1. I quite enjoyed 2 States, despite the pedestrian prose. It was like reading a comic. I haven't read his other books. But we all have different likes when it comes to reading.

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  27. Ha ha ! I can understand the feeling Alka. Hail Cha cha Choudhary and Sabu ! To be on the safer side, I lay low lest somebody tagged me :D If 10 books are all I ever remembered, then remembering the best wouldn't be such a big problem :)

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    1. Funny na? How everyone was thinking of ten books, no less, no more.
      Thank you for reading Asha.

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  28. not on Facebook...no problemo!!! good read this..

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  29. You make me feel better about not being able to go past page 1 of love in the times of cholera and though I haven't been tagged yet in the book challenge, I have been mentally working on my list 😱. Lovely read :)

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