“Man is a social animal”, droned our Social Studies teachers in school. Some kids repeated after them and took notes, while others, more inclined towards Biology, kept “accidentally” dropping their erasers and picking them up. I,on the other hand, was thinking ” Is being a social animal really a good thing?”.
It’s a thought that’s stuck in my head all these years, as have the scientific observations made while innocently picking up fallen erasers (“Aaj blue hai”). But let’s focus on the whole society thing for now, shall we?
Thousands of years ago, the concept of society was in its infancy. Primitive men, armed with spears and clubs, roamed silently through the wilderness, looking for Chinese food and beer. Grunting and scratching one’s crotch were the only forms of communication. As a result, the world was a nice and quiet place, where people spoke only when absolutely necessary.
Primitive Man: Grunt Grunt?
Primitive Man: Grunt Jhinga Oooga Booga Scratch Scratch!!
(Look out…there’s a sabre-toothed tiger lunging at your ding-dong!!)
So far, so good.
But then things began to change. No one really knew how this happened, but suddenly everyone was supposed to be “civilised”. Why? Because everybody ELSE was being civilised, and nobody wanted to be a “social outcast”, even if they didn’t really know what the term meant.
This had grave repercussions on mankind. It meant getting rid of the body lice that men had grown so fond of. And if that wasn’t enough, “get-togethers” were also invented, where erstwhile grunters and scratchers had to actually TALK to other people. This practice evolved to become the modern social phenomenon called “Small Talk” or “Chit Chat” (I believe the scientific term for it is “Homicidal-Tendency-Inducing Vapid Verbal Ejaculation.”)
As with most people, I was introduced to this phenomenon at a tender age. There I was, a precocious toddler, busy sticking crayons up my nose, when all of a sudden, there appeared a voluminous mass of whale blubber wrapped in a sari. It pulled at my cheeks, messed up my hair (NOTE TO THE WORLD IN GENERAL: You NEVER mess with my hair!) and asked me if I knew the alphabet.
“Of course I do! “, I said. “F is for F*** You, Can I Go Play With My He-Man Now?”
Ok so I didn’t really say that. Blame my manners on the absence of cable TV.
Things didn’t really improve in the coming years, as random guests dropped by and amused themselves by testing my memory.
Uncleji: “Helllooo beta..remember me? Ehehehe..I had come to your parents’ wedding..”
Me(thinking): Hey retard..I wasn’t present at my parents’ wedding. They’re not exactly Liz Hurley and Arun Nayyar y’know.
Actual Response: “Umm..no Uncle, I’m sorry I don’t.”
Uncleji:“..then I saw you when you were one year old..you have grown SO big beta..it’s amazing!”
Me(thinking): Not really. You see, every night my parents bury me six feet under, and sprinkle on me water and fertilisers enriched with DNA extracted from Dara Singh’s earwax.
Actual Response: (a constipated smile)
And so it continued, the filling up of spaces with meaningless chatter. The lift, the grocery store and even my own bedroom – no place was safe. There were kindly senior citizens who asked me what college I went to EVERY SINGLE TIME they met me (Bharati Vidyashit College Of Engineering, if you must know), while others discussed job prospects, the weather, Laloo Prasad’s third nipple and other such scintillating topics. The ‘civilised’ Me smiled and faced it all, thus saving the actual Me from getting thrown out of the house.
But then my generation grew up, and boring chatter ceased to be the domain of the ‘Unclejis’. The Internet, originally developed by the US Department of Defense as a storehouse for Jenna Jameson videos, degenerated into a fertile sowing ground for Small Talk. As a result, there was born an intrepid race of friends, foes and people you talked to for 30 seconds in 1997, that has made it their life’s mission to scrap, buzz, tag and poke the living bejeezus out of you. Armed with the intellect of a retarded snail, they leave their droppings all over the web. Like this:
(Two days later)
Hieeee…u dnt reply 2 my scraps..bhul gaye?
(20 scraps later)
hieee…u still nt replied 2 a single scrap..y..wat happ..anyway wassup..
To this, the actual (ok fine, uncivilised) Me would say:
You wanna know why I haven’t replied? Let’s see now. Maybe I’m too busy having a life. Maybe you have the charm of a gooey butt-pimple. Maybe I’d rather have my pecker pecked by a woodpecker, than engage in a conversation with you. Get over it.
But of course, the civilised Me does no such thing. After all, I wouldn’t want to be a social outcast now, would I?
This article was published in JAM Magazine, dated 15th – 29th July 2007.