Friday, June 4, 2010

Is silence golden anymore?

It has been some four days since I posted last in my blog. I know it is not mandatory that there be a daily post. I am quite aware that unless you find something to write and have the mood to write, there is no point in writing something just for the heck of it. (Why do I, all the same, feel rather apologetic about this inactivity of the last few days?)

The problem is not so much that I don't have anything to write about. It is just that I do not consider quite a lot of things suitable to write about for public consumption. I am not one of those who wear their hearts on their sleeves - or on their blogs or social networking profiles or on this ultra-latest micro-blogging mania : Twitter.

There are things we talk about to a second person, a third person, or the world at large. Then there are things that we do not. A good rule of thumb used to be that what need not be said shall not be said.

Do we really have to talk as much as we do? My grandfather used to say “Maunam panditaanaam”. The learned man shall be silent. So that he does not ignite jealousy in others because of his scholarship. He used to chuckle and, with a twinkle in his eyes, add immediately: “Maunamapanditaanaam”. The ignorant shall be silent. So that he does not make an ass of himself because of his ignorance. The long and short of it is that silence is golden, as the saying goes. Do we heed it any longer?

There was a time when people were very particular about what to talk about, where to talk, when to talk, who to talk with, and how much to talk. Circumspection. Discretion. Discreetness. Dignity. Decorum. Reticence. These used to be the watchwords of educated and sophisticated people. Parents and teachers used to play an active role in ensuring adherence to certain stringent norms of behaviour. Gossip was frowned upon. So was babbling - and the kind of babbling we notice today would have made many a mentor in the finishing schools of yesteryears wince in ill-concealed disgust.

We see people discussing their boyfriends, girlfriends, personal problems, problems at work and so on on public online forums - quite unmindful of the need for caution and privacy. We see people posting their phone numbers, mail ids, and addresses on their profiles with various social networking sites - and facing avoidable problems. Yet, they do not just seem to learn. They seem to talk just too much about themselves and about others ... throwing caution to the winds.

We see cabinet ministers talking to the press and TV about things which ought not to be discussed in public. We see ministers using media like Twitter to pass comments which, to say the least, are indiscreet. The row and furor created on at least a couple of occasions by an otherwise suave and urbane (Indian) minister with his 'tweets' is still fresh in the minds of most people.

Why is this cricketer tweeting to the public at large about the match he is going to play that day or sometime soon or about his daily workout or the outing he is planning with his family? What is this actor doing out there talking about his day’s programme? What is this CEO of that multinational company doing out there – tweeting about his company’s latest financial results or the latest product unveiled? What is this gal doing there blabbering about her boyfriend? Why is this fellow making a blatant pass at some gal thru a tweet? Why is this lady having an intimate conversation with her husband thru public tweets? What is this husband doing out there – cribbing to his friends about the quarrel he had that morning with his wife over a burnt toast?

(All the references here to tweets can be properly replaced with a reference to the Scrapbook of an Orkut profile or the Wall of a Facebook profile.)

Are these people simply out of their minds?

Perhaps the very word ‘tweet’ tells us something about these tweets and ‘tweeple’ (people who tweet). ‘Tweet’ means the note of a small bird. When were birds famous for brains? Don’t we have phrases like ‘bird-brained’?

If extremely well-educated people, highly intelligent people, highly sophisticated people, and people in responsible positions find the need to indulge in this flippancy, unmindful of well-established and perfectly sensible norms, do we have a future as a sane, civilized, and responsible society?

Somewhere along the way, the preferences of people seem to have changed radically. One is surprised to seen a sudden upsurge in loquacity, frivolousness, indiscretion, and an utter disregard for propriety of various sorts resulting in the well-entrenched habits of even the most sedate being changed dramatically.

People seem to invite all and sundry to peep into their personal lives. Do we no longer cherish and value privacy? Why do we want to lead our lives on public roads and in market places? Do we no longer remember the dictum ‘A time and place for everything and everything in its time and place’?

Why are people trivializing themselves and their lives?

Is it the influence of the junk programmes on TV where people seem to babble on to fill the available airtime?

Is it the influence of the gushing anchors on TV and the garrulous hosts on FM Radio?

Is it the influence of the myriad cheap magazines - expensive and glossy but absolutely devoid of finesse and refinement - where the various articles are an exercise in insufferable banality?

Is it the tempting scope provided by the various social networking websites to talk without inhibitions - secure in the knowledge that most of the 'friends' one has out there do not really know one in person (and, perhaps, that in any case, they are all birds of the same feathers) - responsible for this deplorable state of affairs?

Is it a sign of the superficiality of our lives and lifestyles and the shallowness of our times?


N B said...

So true!Its the great robbery of romance ... just SAY IT ALL.leave nothin implied/ the mind has no work to do /explore...just read /hear & mystery of 'knowing' anymore..all brain & no heart! True my friend!

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