Wednesday, 6 July 2011


Every innovation, new organisation or set-up comes with a new vocabulary that changes the way we look at things and respond. The Navy, for example, has a totally different lingo that the land-lubbers find quaint. 'Port', 'Starboard', 'Aye Aye' 'Bundleman' 'Son of the gun' etc are some of the words that have invaded our consciousness because of the Navy. When Internet was launched, we were exposed to a brand new lingo, which has become so common now that when we tell someone to 'google' something, we know that he/she would understand that we want him/her to look up all available information about the thing. Similarly, we use the words 'Cut and Paste' to denote an item that someone has plagiarised.

Together with the new lingo comes our interpretation and jokes about the same. Many years back, after India purchased the Swedish Howitzers from Bofor company and there were allegations of large scale kick-backs, the word 'Bofor' became synonymous with bribery and corruption. I took a cab in Delhi and started discussing the current politics with the cab driver. We were discussing the situation in Bihar. During the discussions the cab-driver told me, "Mujhe to iss mein kuchh bofor lagta hai." (I suspect some bofor in it)

A similar thing has happened in India with the words 'Scam', 'Adarsh', 'Incumbency', 'Plot', 'Loot', 'BHK' 'Budget', 'Bollywood' etc. Irrespective of the language being used, such words creep in the discussions and everyone understands their meaning and context.

One recent word made famous by 'Facebook' is 'Like'. Millions of people now 'Like' things - photos, comments, news, events, people, songs, videos more than they ever did in their lives. Let us say there is a news item that reads: 'India's national capital Delhi is the most unsafe for teen girls'. You don't want to record your comments; no, not as yet. So you press the 'Like' button mechanically. Now, if someone were to ask you if you really like teen girls being unsafe in Delhi, it would fill you with surprise. You look for various explanations to defend your 'reflex' action. "Oh, that? I pressed 'Like' to record my appreciation of the plight of these girls being 'finally' highlighted."

Now that the word 'Like' has become so commonplace, lets reflect on what all does it denote. Here are some translations:
  • I truly appreciate the item.
  • I don't have time to read it fully or record a comment.
  • I couldn't care less one way or the other.
  • 'Like' a hole in the head.
  • I have read your comment.
  • I am bookmarking this item to read at leisure.
  • Stop it NOW or else.
  • Okay, I have 'Liked' it, what now?
  • Does it really matter?
  • I am 'Liking' it but don't get me involved in it, for heavens sake.
  • I expect you too to 'Like' when I put up something.
  • There was no other choice and so I pressed 'Like'.
If you ever ask people to explain what they have 'Liked', my guess is that a considerable percentage of them wouldn't have even read the article or gone through the pictures or video. They would be like the boss asking the secretary to give him a list of people that he calls by their first-names.

Life has, therefore, becomes easier for all us who press 'Like' and get it over with. How nice and convenient it would be if Life would actually become like that? What all meanings we would be able to convey to people if we were to use the facebook 'Like' in real life? Here are some examples:
  • We really 'Like' your visiting us on a sunday afternoon. (No, no, it is so boring to have our siesta on the only day of the week we can)
  • I 'Like' the beautiful dress that you are wearing. (You picked it up from the roadside didn't you?)
  • We 'Like' your children having got 95 percent marks in matriculation. (Doesn't look like they have any other interersts; in any case, these days the more you cheat, the more you get rewarded)
  • We 'Like' the three hundred seventy eight pictures of your son's graduation ceremony. (Come to our house sometime and let us return the honour)
  • We 'Like' your invitation for a lecture on 'Breeding Habits of the Common Fly'.
  • You are ready to jail corrupt Indian politicians? We 'Like' it. (As long as they are from the opposition)
  • Actress A, B, or C bares all? I 'Like' it. (In private, I can't tell you what would I do with her nude picture)
  • India declares another holiday to commemorate another national leader? We (really) 'Like' it.
  • Pakistan refused aid by US after yet another evidence of the former's involvement in terror plot? We 'Like' it. (However, very soon Pakis would find other means of siphoning aid)
One of my friends, on facebook, is the most 'Like able' guy. There is nothing that he hasn't 'Liked' from Priyanka Chopra to CBMs between India and Pakistan. There are times, however, when I actually want him to read or see something. Any suggestions how should I go about it?


  1. I 'LIKE' it.
    Hey, where is the like button here?

  2. Very aptly said sir.. All we now think of the so called social media.. Here is another article on the same topic

  3. Ha! Ha! This is a blog; not facebook!

  4. Heres the proof. I read it. I read it.

  5. I 'super like'd it...too good...:)

  6. I 'super like'd it....tooo good..:)


I welcome all your comments as long as these are not vituperative, use obscene language and are communal