In a fair, ideal sort of world, my Facebook post urging people to take an affirmative stand for the cause of good air to breathe will get at least a fourth of the likes/comments/shares conferred on a post celebrating the awesomeness of someone’s child’s (self-proclaimed) angelic smile/antics, or anniversary of marriages/vacations/other life landmarks. Of course I am all for commemorating life’s little and big things and remembering all things past, which is by default golden. Just that I can’t help wondering about the present and the future and about the big things – such as air, environment, equality, conscious citizenry, responsible and conscious consumption – that affect the little things that define our lives.
Many of us do. Wonder, I mean. And hence worry too. Having gone through a shift of pandemic proportions (pun clearly intended) in our lives, we have had time and reason to reflect, pause, breathe, think, all of which may have led to some resolutions in our minds about how we would like to be in the future. About how we can be in relation to others, how our actions tie in with those of others, how it is about more than you and I. Some say they will be more kind and empathetic from now on, some say they will become environment warriors, some are sure they won’t be going back to the old ways of consuming and discarding, some have felt a pronounced need to slow down, and so it goes. For all of that though, there’s no saying how the dynamics of the situation will change, and with that our responses.
That is the thing about the social-media age. There are other things too, but short shelf life and fleeting emotions are on the top of the list, if you ask me. Our emotion of the moment is shaped by the dominant discourse on our social media account timeline. We can’t rejoice fully in one thing, because anger and indignation at a contrary point of view may be just around the next refresh button. Nor are we allowed to grieve fully, because distractions come at the rate of 60 check-ins/hour. We adopt a cause only to drop it like a piece of hot potato as soon as the next cause of the moment makes its touchdown.
Somewhere this morning a whole building fell on people. Some died, some are still trapped in the claustrophobic hell of mortar and debris, the others are crying and screaming or are struck dumb with the shock and unfairness of it all. Some of us who read the news are upset. Not for long though. Too much is happening all the time. Our emotions are scattered thin and our indignation and rants need to be distributed evenly enough.
While that building fell, I was asleep. Not like my being awake was going to change anything for those poor souls. But it reiterates the parallelness of our lives. Or our deaths even.
To repeat, our lives are truly parallel. They don’t meet at all. We did not need a pandemic to tell us that, but we needed this pandemic to reiterate it, if you know what I mean. We all witnessed poverty in motion, and have been moved by it. Are those images already disappearing though? When the pandemic becomes a memory, will we still remember what we saw? Has something shifted within us? The world is not exactly the same anymore, but are we looking at it in just the same way as we did earlier? But maybe we are looking at a different world slightly differently and find that something has changed. For the good, is what one hopes.