Did you happen to watch the final of the World Championships of badminton the other day? I speak of the ladies final, of course, in which PV Sindhu and Okuhara sparred with each other over three glorious sets, with the latter pipping the former at the very last.
Bully for you if you did, because I thought it was an excellent example of why one should watch sport. Rohit Brijnath, in a column he has written on another sport, had mentioned that athletes need to feel pain for us, the viewer, to experience pleasure. By that measure, this match was right up there with Maximus Crowe in Gladiator. Hammer and tongs they went at each other, the two ladies, consistently producing rallies of such tortuous length that watching it alone was exhausting. It was just too bad, speaking as an Indian fan, that it was PV Sindhu who had to lose that day. Heartbreaking, in fact. I may even have allowed myself a manly sniffle or two.*
A couple of days after that, however, I chanced upon an article written about the match. The title of the article was “Why choker PV Sindhu is still not pure gold standard”.
You, I and our uncles know about the phenomenon called clickbait, and so I was prepared to let the headline slide.
The subheadline, however, made it clear that the author was in a pugilistic mood. I quote: “PV Sindhu choked in the final of the BWF World Badminton Championships in Glasgow on Sunday. Sindhu lost a tactical match against Japan’s Nozomi Okuhara, who was seeded below her.” The author was clearly not willing to let matters slide. It is true that the writer doesn’t choose the headline, but the rest of the article, while not using the word choker, continued in similar vein, concluding that until she won something of note, she couldn’t be considered ‘gold standard’.
Now, I agree with Voltaire, who said that you are free to say what you want, no matter how large an ass you make of yourself, or words to that effect.
And so while I vehemently disagree with the author, and will never let him imbibe even a drop of my whiskey, I will defend his ambition to prove himself a certified oaf. He has the right, and as the article proves in no small measure, he certainly has the ability.
But rather than ask myself the obvious question (“How could he?!”), I chose the rather more measured, reflective route. Why, I asked myself, would he? He is entitled to his opinion, sure, but why express it when you know it is likely to prove unpopular? I think, for example, that Despacito is like a hundred other songs, and doesn’t deserve to be the most watched song on YouTube, but I don’t usually express said opinion. Especially in front of people born in this century. So why shoot yourself to the top of the unpopularity stakes by writing something like this?
And the answer, I concluded, was because they wanted precisely this: more and more people to talk about it.
Sharing stuff online easily has made it possible for us to cackle with outrage, and as it turns out, we are very good at cackling with outrage.
We always were good at it, but Twitter allows us to c.w.o with folks across the seven seas, and about topics of all kinds, ranging from what shoes Mrs Trump is wearing, to asinine articles about superb matches in sports.
Given a choice between being feeling hot and frazzled or warm and fuzzy, we find it more convenient to resort to the former. But that, I would urge you to consider, raises your blood pressure, and does little else besides. Apart from driving more page views for that particular article, which only incentivises oafs to become better oafs.
All of which is to say that if you do feel like sharing something today, make it this column, the one you’re reading right now. You’ll feel warm and fuzzy, your blood pressure will remain in check and most importantly, as anybody who knows me will assure you, I couldn’t become a bigger oaf if I tried.
See? Everybody becomes a winner this way. Except for Sindhu of course, because she already was one.
*That’s a lie. I bawled like a baby.
#All views expressed in this column are the authors and Pune365 does not necessarily subscribe to them.
He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
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