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Vol. XXXI No. 11, September 16-30, 2021

Going Forward

By Ranjitha Ashok

A forwarded message pops up in a certain group – let’s just call it the Merry-Melange, as opposed to the Family-Freak-Outs, the WFH-Whatevers, the Fearsome-Fun-Finders, or The-Doggedly-Cerebrals, to name just a few from among the dozens of groups you have clamouring up and down your cell phone.

‘City stunned by death of beloved ­philanthropist’ the post says, and within seconds, messages rush in.

So sorry – RIP (palms meeting emoji)

Deepest condolences (palms meeting emoji)

So sad – why do v always lose the gud ones? (You’d think a condolence message deserves the respect of stretched-out spelling – but apparently this is part of that creature called ‘the new normal’.)

Om Shanthi (folded palms emoji)

Om Shanthi Shanthi Shanthi (Three folded palms emojis rapidly following each other – some people see competition everywhere)

Om Shanthi RIP (Well, okay – fusion works)

After around 37 such messages, a lone voice of sanity appears.

Guys, this person passed away in 2016. Old message going around.

It’s as if a bucket of ice-cold water has been flung into the group and an eerie silence now settles in and spreads.

You know, this whole business about forwarding forwards needs a bit of introspection.

You understand, of course.

Travel, meeting people, getting together with friends, is still a challenge for many.

So, messages are checked a zillion times a day, and in that zombie-like haze brought on by over-communication, you tend to blindly forward images, messages, videos, ‘news’ and completely unverified happenings to all and sundry.

Be honest – pre-2020, would you have sent that one of water circling the drain in a wash basin to everyone you know, including, by mistake, to your boss, who is now re-thinking your role in the company?

No – nor would you have decided that what the world, or that part of it you are connected to, urgently needs is that image of a cat taking a nap.

It’s true – the logical discriminating mind is either tottering or has given up, melting into a catatonic wasteland.

But, while you empathise with the person frenziedly forwarding the one about the heavy-set father ill-advisedly leaping on to his child’s trampoline, inadvertently launching said infant into space, you also understand why some people have that slightly stern warning beside their DP: ‘No forwards, no flowers, no good mornings’!

Although you can’t help thinking they should have added: no feel-good, life-enhancing messages either.

Such a menace these are, capable of transforming the sweetest, goodwill-towards-all-both-great-and-small creature into a kitchen-knife wielding psychopath.

Look, Life is hard enough without being subjected to Mary-Poppinsy joy-in-the-morning trilling the minute you open your eyes, especially when you know you are in for another mind-numbingly routine day, involving masks at that.

So, no, you will not see your blessings as stars in the sky because you have that many, thank you very much.

And people, two different enthu-cutlets sending the same forward just two messages apart…?


Literally TWO – count them.

Déjà vu in its place is interesting, but this nuclear level of carelessness brings on severe gnashing of teeth, and some fruity cussing. Apart from being vaguely insulting to the person who JUST sent the first forward.

On a more serious note – do please check certain messages before forwarding because there’s a good chance that you could create a 21st century version of a panic set off by a certain War of The Worlds broadcast in 1938.

Given social media speed these days, this could rock the very foundations of civilisation as we know it.

(Come on – do you really believe a large lizard is attacking your city?)

And there’s no point feeling wounded and targeted when Sane-Voice pops up again, declaring your recent forward ‘Fake News’ for the whole group to see and snigger at, secretly thankful they didn’t tap ‘send’ as they almost did.

Also, do be aware that between auto-correct and the whimsical arrangement of letters on the keyboard, some sensational twists happen.
Due diligence prevents messages like ‘May all your dreams fry tofu’ from causing further damage. (No, not making this up.)

So – eye each message carefully from all angles, using the keenest, most piercing glance possible; trust no one, and exercise extreme caution before tapping ‘send’ … going forward.

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