• Jagruthi Maddela

Surviving the Opinion Factory aka Internet

I just read a scathing criticism of director Trivikram and how he wrote his latest movie Ala Vaikunthapuram Lo. It’s about how he wrote the story of an upper caste, upper-class kid when thrown into a middle-class family still outshines everyone thanks to his genes, and somehow the lower-class kid fails to shine, even when put in a privileged setting. This comes in at a time when the movie has enjoyed phenomenal success at the BO, and prolific members of the industry have stated that Trivikram is the personification of excellence in Telugu literature and cinema.

I have watched the celebratory videos. I have read the critique. Now, my mind plays out something that sounds like the persistent roar of a cricket stadium, “pick a side, pick a side, pick a side, PICK A SIDE.” As a user of the internet, it is SO easy for us to get swayed away by the next opinion that comes our way about an actor, a movie, a culture or a political ideology. Where there’s a strong, possibly radical opinion, there’s also an equally radical opinion opposing it. Hello, Newton.

I wonder – has the internet given us a perpetually switched-on collar mic and turned us into Big Boss-like contestants who scurry around creating drama, for no other reason than they have been put in the environment? Have we made apes of ourselves, jumping on to the first social media post that disagrees with us to give them a piece of our mind? Have we all become the Poojas who throw a fit when nobody is really *asking* or *dying* for our opinion?

How many of us have that one ‘friend’ who comes in uninvited to let you know their defiant opinion, that invariably spites you? Truth be told – we have all been that one ‘friend.’ We have all written posts and comments termed “savage” by our friends. We have all been *triggered* by posts that don’t necessarily deserve the warning tag.

And why wouldn’t we? The great algorithm rewards us with little treats of ‘like’ and ‘love’ buttons on everything we put out there. Cute little treats for typing and retyping a 10-line opinion on why you think something is right or wrong. Likes and retweets to back it up. Repeat the drill the next morning, like a pet dog being trained to learn amusing tricks.

Another crazy offshoot to this trend is when someone refuses to play the same game as us. Pouncing on the next opportunity to diss someone just because they aren’t as outraged as us. Ruthlessly calling out and cancelling celebrities for saying/not saying/doing/not doing something we think is right because somehow these people are alien creatures from 3000 lightyears away devoid of feelings, no?

While we diss others, don’t we also place the supreme burden on ourselves to churn out or side with opinions, every single minute? Whether it’s something as frivolous as chai v/s coffee or more serious stuff like the CAA.

In the great words of Sri Sri Millennial: we got no chill, fam. From waiting on people to respond to our comments to sharing screenshots of an argument with other ‘like-minded’ confidants, have we forgotten the art of disengaging?

Or that we have a CHOICE to not engage in arguments with no end to them because, hey, we’re just here to vomit our polarising opinions, sometimes. You know? Can we also learn the fact that we don’t need to jump into every drama to give our two cents? I mean, I’m just saying. Don’t come @ me. lol.

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