(Tweitgeist is my new weekly column for the Sunday Guardian.)
Twitter! It’s basically a direct connection to your id. No matter how much you try to dress it up with witty bon mots or parsimonious prose, you can never hide your inner a**hole. This is a good thing, because, if we wanted to read saccharine updates from horrible people, we’d stick to Facebook.
Appropriately, the last week of 2011 saw the last hurrah of pro-violence Gandhian and ineligible Bachelor of the Year, Anna Hazare. Not only were people in the real world deserting him, even Twitter’s revolutionaries were leaving his sinking ship. First he came for our alcohol, then he came for the women who couldn’t breed. People were suddenly surprised that an old man whose name literally translates to “Big Brother” had some strong opinions on how other people should live and behave. Not that most Indians mind, of course. We like our Messiahs like we like our leading men in south Indian movies – old, dystopian and rumoured to possess supernatural powers.
So, while the action at Annapalooza fizzled out, Twitter India’s hopes turned from the dear leader of Ralegan Siddhi and were soon invested in the great speeches being delivered in the Rajya Sabha, the Jogger’s Park of legislative bodies. If only history had shown us – even once, Herr Reader – that making great speeches does not necessitate good policies! This euphoria turned to abject disappointment once the bill wasn’t passed. There was righteous anger about the fact that a group of people who have benefitted from a certain system are not even pretending to attempt to change that very system.
After orchestrating the drama in the Rajya Sabha over the passage of the Lokpal bill, each political party went on a media offensive, trying to usurp the high moral ground. They tried every tired excuse in the book, at one point even accusing each other of playing politics! Gasp! A political party playing politics? That has never before happened in the history of the world!
The Congress proved how serious it was to combat corruption when it made Ajit Singh — a politician whose career, rumour has it, has been like a prolonged withdrawal from the ATM — the Civil Aviation minister. The BJP showed its resolve to eradicate corruption by inducting into its UP unit ex-BSP members who even Mayawati thought were too corrupt to be around. Being judged too corrupt by Mayawati is like being called a “fundamentalist loony” by Subramaniyam Swamy. Perhaps the BJP’s ingenious plan to deny power to corrupt politicians is to make them members of the BJP. Meanwhile, Sharad & Laloo Yadav proved once again that they’re more suited to headline the terrible Archana Puran Singh variety comedy show than determine public policy.
Maybe now we can stop pretending that the Lokpal bill would have even slightly dented corruption in this country.
The Twittersphere had an auspicious start to the New Year by outraging about British television presenter and professional troll Jeremy Clarkson. Apparently he made bad jokes about not all Indians having access to hygienic washroom facilities. How dare a foreigner make mildly amusing remarks about a stark Indian reality? Also, there is no lack of washroom facilities in India. What Clarkson doesn’t realize is that in India, if you want to take a s**t, the world is your oyster. To some of our countrymen, nature is their commode. And rivers are their bidet. Who needs to be stuck in a small enclosure when you can be one with nature whilst emptying your body of all of yesterday’s toxins? It’s practically meditative! Don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it, Clarkson. Stop being such a burra sahib for once.
Also this week, real life Bond villain and voicemail enthusiast Rupert Murdoch joined Twitter, ostensibly to present his side of the story. Because if there was one thing Murdoch is lacking, it’s a platform in which to present his views. After a few hours another Twitter account appeared, purporting to be his young wife and current head of security Wendi Deng. Both accounts were verified by both Twitter and Newscorp. A day later the Wendi Deng account revealed that it was a fake. Shocking! Someone on the Internet wasn’t who they said they were! Why would anyone lie on the Internet and ruin it’s sanctity? If there was any justice in the world, the Rupert Murdoch account would have been run by a gay girl from Damascus.