Have you ever wondered, what would happen if suddenly the gentle pull of the earth was no more? What would happen if the weakest force of the universe ceased to exist? What if gravity was no more? Let’s imagine for a moment.
First, all the vehicles will start flying in the air! Directed not by the friction between the road and the tyre but by the friction of air. All the people walking have just propelled themselves into the sky! Everyone is floating. And while floating, we feel the air getting thinner and thinner. Air itself is moving away from the earth. Without gravity, there’s nothing to keep the atmosphere of the earth together. Slowly, the atmosphere will start to dissipate into the vaccum of space. Look at the sky! Why is the sun getting bigger and bigger? But we feel colder at the same time! Hold on! The earth is also disintegrating. What is happening? As we float in the direction which our last step propelled us towards, slowly but surely we will suffocate in the vast expanse of the universe. And humanity will be no more. Earth will be no more. The solar system has flung all its planets to the corners of the galaxy. The sun is no more. Maybe all that will remain is the cosmic noise of particles. And then, maybe there in some dark corner of the universe, an inanimate lump of rock will philosophize, gravity was the weakest of all forces. But she sure did keep the universe in order.
I know, I know. You’re asking, Noel! What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Well, I’m doing this to make a point. But I can’t make the point in the normal fashion because if I do, my point will suffer the same fate all other interesting and valid points seems to suffer in this world of whataboutery, alternative facts & funomaniacs. What’s a “funomaniac” you ask? It’s a word I just made up. It joins together 2 words. Fun & Monomaniac. A monomaniac is someone who is obsessed with a single idea. Those who are obsessed with “Fun” are called funomaniacs. Funomania is a rapidly spreading disease. A study was conducted in 2019, which concluded that the national pastime in US, England, India and China was internet trolling. In 2021, the theme of the 76th General Assembly of the United Nations was “For the lulz”. That same year many countries also adopted “minion” as the model for ideal citizen. Soon, most laws were abolished and it was convened that anything done for the lulz was right.
Have I got your attention yet? Yes? Do read on.
For the past couple of years I’ve been feeling like humanity is losing a very crucial skill. It seems to me that humanity is forgetting how to be serious. We now live in times where being serious about anything has become unfashionable. And it is even more true for the topics that should really be taken seriously. As I see the news, I see the president of the United States & the supreme leader of North Korea calling each other names. “Dotard!” says one. “Little Rocket man” says the other. That’s how leaders of the 2 countries converse on the topic of nuclear missiles.
India is no different. We Indians believe in balance. Both sides of scale must be equal. So, when the Indian mind encounters any issue that challenges its own preconceived biases the issue is met with whataboutery and victim blaming. Want some examples?
* Girls were molested on university campus? What were they doing out so late or that is to be expected with the kind of clothes they wore. * Girls were lathi charged during protests for molestation? There were anti-national elements in the protests. * A man was beaten to death while watching Garba? What was he doing at a "private" function for higher caste people? He must've been molesting girls. * GDP growth hits 3 year low? Well it's been lower during the previous UPA regime. * A newspaper reports that politician's son's business' turnover increased 16000 times in a year? Well we've seen bigger scams during previous regime. Also, sue the newspaper as no law is reported to be broken.
It’s ridiculous. But do you see the pattern? Once the Indian mind has balanced the equation by using whataboutery and victim blaming, it has done its duty, contributed to the conversation and can move on to next topic without any moral obligations or hurl abuses at the other side just for lulz.
Nothing is taken seriously. Having been desensitized by so much violence & depravity we’ve lost the capacity to be appalled and shocked. Every tragic news is just another infobyte to munch on and spit out. Unmoved by the problems of others we move onto the next item on the newsfeed in hopes that it will tickle our funny bone. There are exceptions but they are swimming against the tide.
Let me conclude. It seems to me that “being serious” serves the same role in human realm as gravity serves in physical realm. That’s why the word is sometimes used interchangeably. “Do you understand gravity of the situation?” is used interchangeably with “Do you understand the seriousness of the situation?”. And the reason we imagined the loss of gravity in the beginning of essay is because I think that the consequences of eliminating seriousness from human realm are the same as the consequences of eliminating gravity from the physical realm. If we’re not serious on serious topics, our institutions, traditions & even our common sense will disintegrate before our very eyes. It will be the end of us. I’ve heard people say “A little fun hurts no one.” But I can’t agree to that statement when I see porn destroying lives for nothing but fun. If we can’t be serious about serious matters, then we may just hear the laughter of hell.