What, I idly wondered one lazy afternoon, is a gesture that unites all of humanity?
Thinking about such questions is an art that I specialize in, as you well know, and the results have often been enlightening – both for me and my little circle of friends.
And so it was with this question, as you are about to see.
Might it be, I mused, a simple hand wave? We often tend to smile and wave at each other, even if we know each other only in passing. Except of course, in these troubled times there isn’t much smiling happening, let alone waving.
And so while I would have been more than happy to nominate the hand wave, I had to reluctantly abandon the thought.
What about giving somebody the finger then? The lord knows I’m tempted to do this on a minute-by-minute basis, especially when I’m commuting on the city’s smart streets – as, it would seem, is everybody else.
But this too, I had to perforce abandon, for I wouldn’t wish this gesture to be a part of a child’s communication toolkit. It will become a part of it, sooner rather than later – but let’s hold off for as long as possible.
What then, your persistent thinker further went on to think, might be the answer?
And after hours of arduous thought, and a couple of delayed projects, I think I have it.
The universal gesture that unites humanity is as follows: one’s left hand outstretched, palm turned upward. One’s right hand slightly above the left hand, palm turned downward, index finger extended. And now move the index finger upward in a smooth, practised motion. This, dear reader, is a gesture that unites us all today.
I speak, of course, of swiping on the phone.We all (or at any rate, those of us accursed enough to be able to afford one of these ghastly things) have fallen prey to staring down at the magic box, and swiping away at all hours of the day and most hours of the night. Whether it be playing games, watching YouTube videos, reading Whatsapp messages or not shopping on Amazon or Flipkart – we all do it, and that too all the time.
With regard to the last example in the preceding paragraph, it was not a typo. I really do mean not shopping on Amazon.
The Missus, I have some considerable pride in admitting, is a fine champion at this particular sport. She can spend hours not shopping on Amazon. She’ll swipe away with utter dedication for ages, and manage to come away from the app without having spent a single penny.
But, I hasten to add in the interests of fairness and of peace at home, she is far from being alone in this regard. We’re all compulsive not-shoppers now, and excellent at that one gesture that unites all of us.
Now, if you’ll excuse me. I just got a Whatsapp alert. The column can wait, but that gentle vibration on my phone absolutely cannot. Hang on, just give me a second…
He doesn't expect the paradox to be resolved in his lifetime
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