On Not Knowing and Knowing Too Much

Whoever said \’ignorance is bliss\’ wasn\’t kidding.

There was a time when I didn\’t know much and I was happy.

My time on earth can be divided into life before internet and life with internet. The 1980s were a simple time in India. Two channels on TV; video games were monochrome, with two buttons and expensive for ordinary folks. I spent most of my time playing outside/inside or reading random non-curriculum shit.

The 1990s weren\’t too bad. Cable TV was exciting. But as always, TV content consumption was passive and non-customized. I loved the cheesy Bollywood movies in single-screen theaters. My only window to the world at large was the programme The World This Week, which came once a week on Fridays, around 7 pm. I waited with baited breath for clips from news channels from around the world. I drooled at the slightly titillating previews of Hollywood movies.

But that\’s it. I still didn\’t know a lot.

My first internet connection was in 1997. The VSNL connection was expensive, but I made the most of it. Suddenly, a portal to the rest of the world opened up for me. The slow dial-up connection took 30 minutes to connect. But once connected, I went berserk. I am convinced that I developed a lot of patience and stupidity as a result. But I was still contented.

By 1999 I was chatting with random strangers from across the world on Yahoo! Chat. Some of them might have had fake profiles. Orkut was my first introduction to social networking. It was fun to read about the thoughts, scraps, and testimonials of others. It was beginning to get pretty exciting.

The early years of Facebook were fairly innocent. People put mild status updates. But then, suddenly, the platform unleashed hidden demons/angels from inside as the next generations got on board. People became more and more uninhibited about their thoughts and activities. Soon we were bombarded by angry, indignant rants; fawning, fan-boy raves; hilarious fish pouts; unfunny selfies; impossible holiday pics; unhindered PDA pics; and so on and so forth.

Eventually, corporations, news media, NGOs took to the new fish pond with a vengeance. Being addicted to news, I liked many of the pages. Now I know 100 ways in which I\’m dying, 10 ways in which the world is coming to an end, 25 ways in which to worsen my body image, what sucks around the world and in my neighborhood, how criminally cute some creatures are, which vacation spots I cannot go to, what intellectual discourse I cannot fathom—basically everything out there that\’s out of my reach or screwing me over. It\’s a tsunami of information that I cannot stop, comprehend, or even enjoy.

Today, I know much much more and I\’m disgruntled.

Whoever said knowledge is power didn\’t clarify \’over what\’.

Published by Anupam Choudhury

I'm a writer, editor, and blogger from New Delhi, India.

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