For my age, I use Facebook a bit too excessively, mainly to understand the next generation that we have handed our world to.
The first thing that strikes you on social media is that every young man and woman here is armed with inexhaustible supply of anger about everything, as nearly everything that can be typed rubs their freedom the wrong way. The latest barrage of this anger has made me think, as a middle-aged person, if my generation has lost the plot somewhere.
If you are old like me, you may not be aware that last week Indian youth felt an earth-shattering blow on freedom of speech because a young man, who had created a popular page named after a high court was issued a notice by the court for misuse of its name. What followed this catastrophe was not just “how could they?” but so much more that I am tempted to paste opinion of a 20 something Indian verbatim here.
He posted and I copy, “our ****ing piece of shit bribe fuelled judiciary is offended”. I admit that not all young Indians were referring to copulating judiciary in the prose, but general sentiment was well aligned with his flowery diction.
For me, what makes him and his young highly opinionated friends extremely interesting is that it is highly unlikely that anyone of them had ever been inside a court room or suffered from judicial processes of any kind.
It is not about just the judiciary, young Indians have strong opinions on most things they have absolutely no real experience about, as they are completely sure that they can simulate reality within their minds and arrive at indisputable wisdom.
This really surprising ability they exhibited all over social media has made me think of a strange possibility.
The know-all youth of today exists thus because we are in awe of them. With them riding the internet with ease and using technology that we feel challenged with, we have been far too impressed by them to think that we have something to give to them. It is almost as if we are a rare generation who is looking at the youth to learn their wisdom.
The net outcome is, they sit and discuss aspects of reality that they have no real experience about and churn wisdom like the kid above, while they have absolutely no idea about the ramifications of their imaginary wisdom in real world.
While they insult and abuse every institution of society as restrictive, they (and we) fail to see that they live on computer screens. We don’t tell them that insulting was not fun because in a real world insult may earn you a black-eye. We don’t tell them that abusing judiciary with impunity has a risk of undermining it.
While we don’t feel confident enough to tell them what is right or wrong, they are gathering a momentum from the feedback they get from their unreal world and each other.
Every generation has a right o have the world the way they want it, but it is always helpful if the passing generation shares their experiences gained from real living.
The disconnect caused by technology is dangerous and must be bridged. And the best way to bridge it is by creating forums of old fashioned verbal conversations.
I would really like to invite the young Indian who holds such a intense opinion for a judiciary for a public conversation in Town Hall to understand his viewpoint and also provide him with alternative opinions that he is agnostic-to on social media.
We need to reinstate conversations before the art is completely lost. And we need to do this consciously by putting real effort in setting up forums. If we don’t, we would be guilty of failing to pass the baton.