ashamed?

It is time now for me to introspect.

Nobody near or dear to me was flying in or out of Chennai airport on the fourth of December, but I still kept watching the news channels. It was a week after the Mumbai attacks, a week after the men in uniform finished their jobs, and a couple of days after even socialites stopped commenting on the tragedy. The terror threat was mentioned in the newspapers too, but I just counted on our newscasters to give me the latest with spice and spectacular voice modulation. Unfailingly they were there, waiting with their cameras and anchors for the first blast or the first dead body. It is their job. They need sensations. Exaggerating an event is easier than creating one. And as they waited, I waited too.

Was I waiting for a bloody event too? On the surface I will not agree to this. I claim to be a sensitive, concerned citizen who would naturally not want fellow-countrymen to suffer. But why was I watching continuously? Why do we all watch this news continuously? On the two days of terrorist engagement in Mumbai, I had an excuse. I was waiting to know that the terrorists have all been captured or killed. But, after that? I certainly was not waiting to see who the next CM was going to be, after all it is a party with the tagline “high command will decide” as its headline. I was watching the airports shown in multiple windows.

What was I waiting for when those airports were covered live? Was I also waiting like those journalists for something sinister to happen interestingly? When I introspect on this, I am ashamed. I never imagined a voyeuristic streak in my psyche. What happened to my sensitive empathy? It may appear as voyeurism when I think of it as a perverted pleasure derived from peeking at persons without their knowledge, but perhaps in a way it is sadism- the thrill experienced on seeing pain inflicted on and suffered by others. Am I single in this subcontinent with these morbid subconscious tastes, or are there millions like me out there?

This is a terrible thought. It is more terrible and terrifying than a terror attack. Why do I and others do this? It cannot be few in number. Just a few people watching will not bring revenue for the channels. They have mechanisms to show that they are being watched. When they are being watched, they make money. What do ‘we’ gain by watching?

Watching TV is by itself an obsession for many people. If the TV is not functioning many people become restless and irritable. The same is happening to the net .It has become a part of our lives. I have been critical of the people who were hooked on to the soaps, but that was the intellectual-aesthetic part of me. And, it was that same sly self that pretended to update itself on the happenings when in actuality it was an addict wanting that one more shot. I have to admit with shame that I have become addicted to these ‘latest happenings’ and ‘breaking news’ that feed my urge for ‘that’ something to happen. So, I begin to wonder if (1) I am addicted to TV news channels and (2) if I have developed a sinister streak in myself. TV addiction is understandable even if not acceptable and the acknowledgement of this fact is not going to hurt my ego as it is not a socially despicable behavior. But , waiting to watch terror? That is neither intellectual nor aesthetic. It is not acceptable to one’s carefully nurtured self-image. Yet, I fear that is what is happening- not just to me, but to lot more people.

If this is an addictive behavior, one has to look at it from that perspective. Initially (for ease of writing let me call the addiction-inducer the object), the object is interesting and then becomes alluring. It is being the source of atleast fun if not happiness for people around you. It is not despicable atleast amidst your peers. You always feel you are just going to have one good look at the object before you throw it away for good. You perhaps use it and do not return to its pleasurable qualities immediately; but over the course of time, you think that you can handle it and want to use it on and off. The usage becomes frequent. You get obsessed with it. You develop a compulsive urge to keep using it. You miss it. You crave for it. You want more and more of it. With this framework of reference regarding addiction, I wonder more whether we are getting addicted to news on terror.

I am scared that one day I might miss my daily scare.

In any addiction the addictive substance has to be available in the beginning, and its sellers ensure that it is in regular supply. If this is our new addiction who sells and who keeps selling it? We are not innocent and blameless. We are responsible for buying it, enjoying it and craving for it. But in any de-addiction programme making the substance non-available or atleast not easily available is the first step. And in my experience only those who accept that they have become addicted and want to get out of the addiction recover.

I want to get out of this. I hope that those who are like me would also wish to get over this new addiction. When we decide to desist, the sellers will not offer the merchandise.

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13 Comments on “ashamed?”

  1. mannar Says:

    is it because of the media that our minds are tuned up expecting something for not very nice things to happen at times or such feelings are inside each and every human being… if so y are we called as humans?????

  2. Jerry Says:

    Well written piece. I wish more people would be willing to accept that we have a big societal problem of voyeurism here. After all, we are also being given what we want and in that sense the media is not to blame entirely. With all the people coming out into the streets and lighting candles, one thing we forget is that, ‘we’ ourselves have to change first.

  3. Rajkumar Says:

    i had accidentally switched on ndtv on wednesday and due to the time lag i saw it as ti happened. i was stuck to the tv till 1am which is 6.30 in india and was preoccupied till it was over and even now i see more ndtv rather than local tvs here in UK. ididnt introspect till to day. am i a voyer. introspecting i cried and shared the anguish. in later discussions when some one commented about CST station not bering shown as much as Taj my response was Taj was happening but CST was over. i didnt differentiate between rich and the foriegn and the commons. a life is a life and the nature of the senseless and mindless violence made it more heart rending. yes the live coverage made it more telling. telecastors did make it more dramatic. the later events of discussions and sound bytes from the elite made it in my opinion silly, but coming back to my reactions in the first day i wanted someone to kill the parents, siblings and the children of the terrorists. later i wanted to donate money for restoration of Taj. i heard some one asking if they donate money will tata allow them to stay in Taj even for a few hours free. in my opinion it was in bad taste. tatas did not ask for our money. more over if one knows the history of Taj tata was refused entry to a whites only hotel in Bombay and built one for indians. the other hotel went out of business in six years. in a way Taj is a symbol of our national pride. please access times online for history of bombay written in 1911 which is relevant even today.
    the good thing about this live journalsim is we are aroused and excercised. i have my reservations about what has gone on later. public opinion is moulded to focus on politicians and scapegoating. the media was able to bring down the CM and the deputy CM who i heard was a honest politician( is it an oxymoron) as a last word there are things out there let us be choosy in what we perceive and accept

  4. முத்துக்குமார் Says:

    ஒவ்வொரு முறையும்
    டிவியை
    இயக்கத்திற்கு கொண்டு
    வரும்போதும்
    ஏதாவதொரு
    ப்ரேக்கிங் நியூஸ்

    கும்ப்ளே திடீர் ஓய்வு
    சென்ஸெக்ஸ் 8000 புள்ளிகளுக்குக் கீழே
    கல்லூரி மாணவர்கள் மோதல்
    புயல் அதிகாலை கரையைக் கடந்தது
    அமெரிக்க அதிபர் தேர்தலில் கறுப்பர் ஒபாமா வெற்றி

    மேலும்..
    குண்டுவெடிப்பு..பலர் உயிரிழப்பு…
    தீவிரவாதிகள் தாக்குதல்..பலர் பலி…

    அனைத்து சம்பவங்களுமே
    சொல்லிக்கொண்டு நிகழ்வதில்லை
    மனித வாழ்க்கையே
    எதிர்பாறாததில்தான் அடங்கியிருக்கிறது

    ஒவ்வொரு செய்தியையும்
    ப்ரேக்கிங் நியூஸாக
    தொலைக்காட்சி செய்தி ஊடகங்கள்
    அறிவித்து
    மனித மனதை பரபரப்புக்கு
    அடிமையாக்குவதை
    தடை செய்ய வேண்டும்…

  5. Nambi B Says:

    Excellent post, what they are trying is nothing but “Manufacturing news, direction and consent” (Thanks to Noam).

    I was living in New York, about 25 miles from World Trade Center when it was attacked and burnt down, the 24/7 media (CNN, ABC, NBC etc), were constantly hypnotizing the American people that the country is doomed with terror and trying to instigate fear and hate. Even today if I think about those days, they were very tiresome. The media campaigns created more depression among americans than the attack itself. It took me two years that I decided not to watch/follow the TV for any live events, and even anything represents the commercial interests ( which means the whole of the TV). I am out of the TV habit now, I no longer need a TV, I check the internet for the news whenever needed, and have plenty of sources to cross-check their validity, I can declare that I am a FREE PERSON now!!


  6. I am just curious..,

    is it possible for a being to decline the addiction to the curiosity of knowing the “new” happenings around?

    are we designed to hunt for “new ” be it a terror or pleasure?

  7. haran Says:

    I am in the middle of a book ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle, in which he is talking about ‘pain body’, which is available with everybody and is feeding on DRAMA. Doctor! I want your precious comments on his theory, if possible.

    Thank you.

  8. raghu Says:

    An incident: During the bomb blasts in Coimbatore, police found a car with 49kg of RDX which failed to explode on the set time. All the people were evacuated from the area and the Squad announced that it may likely to be made exploded by them since they had not find a way to diffuse that. They announced a time line for that. People were waiting very eagerly to hear the sound of the blast with tensed mind. But suddenly a team of experts from Pune arrived and managed to diffuse the explosives successfully which ultimately saved the surroundings from severe damage. We could see and hear the people who were eagerly watching all the scenes for 2 days finally got a feeling of disappointment and said “oh… it will not explode-eh!! Che!”


  9. I think the best solution to this is to TURN OFF TV. I also underwent such state of mind during the Iraq crisis in April 2002. I could not bear it and finally I said TALAQ to it. I severed my connection with the idiot box. I was relieved. Even now I feel immense relief when I see the grief stricken faces of my friends who watch TV.
    The problem with TV is that you do not have a choice. You have to follow it wherever it takes you. While browsing THE HINDU I have many options. I could skip the entire first page if it does not attract me. I could mark some pieces written by enlightened souls to read it later in a leisured way. I could, I could, I could the list goes on..!
    On the other hand, while watching TV you are bound with the channel. Of course the remote is there. But the truth is that ALL are SAME.
    So I have been campaigning among my friends to switch OFF TV. By the grace of God and as a sweet outcome of my decision I have become IMMUNE to the TV Mentality. I would like to submit a proof for this. When the previous BJP led NDA Govt. launched a mega 450 crore INDIA SHINING campaign I didn’t came under its spell as I had turned OFF TV. My friends, colleagues and everybody who watched TV believed that NDA would return as INDIA was SHINING!!! I believed and argued with them in favour of Congress.

    Rest is history, now. I invite, request and plead to your goodselves to launch a TURN OFF TV campaign in the state. It will go a long way. We need a generation which is free thinking. To have it you have to TURN OFF TV.

    Excuse me for the lengthy comment.
    Thanking you.

  10. Indian Says:

    I am just a new one to your blog… Just accidentally came across this website.. But really I dont know what to say.. I read some of your previous views too… Views always differ.. But the thing is it should bring a feeling of just in everyones’ mind… I now have a feeling that my look at things have differed by some dimensions.. THANKS FOR CREATING THIS DIFFERENCE IN ME RUDHRAN SIR.. A NICE JOB BY A GOOD CITIZEN OF OUR NATION… MY SALUTE FOR YOUR SOCIAL WORK!!!

  11. sowmiya Says:

    my guess towards mumbai terror attack.
    is it a planned one of Indian (vexed to say this)
    politicians who are against islam in india, to make
    people to forget about the recent arrests of
    terrorists, who are belonging to some religious
    (particularly hindhu) parties?

    This comment may be ambiguous in its meaning, as because, still am not expertised to convert my thoughts to words like you…

  12. malar Says:

    Dr.Rudhran’s PATHIVAI TAMIL,IL PADIKKA AASAIYAHA ULLATHU.

  13. sangeetha enian Says:

    enakkum tamil il vendum athu polave palurum ninaika koodum


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