Facebook removed a post of mine on the covid crisis sometime back because it had violated some community guidelines.( whatever that may mean but Facebook claims to know what is best for the community interest )The censored post was more in the nature of anguished musings, a rhapsody meditation, a Crie de Coeur on the moral deliquescence of our society. I rued my sense of utter helplessness- and erumpent anger at the gross mismanagement – as well as my inability to make one bit of difference to the lives of people in distress, who made desperate calls for help in this hour of national crisis. The post was removed within minutes and Facebook warned me that I had violated community guidelines . The tone of the admonishment was indulgent, it said people do commit mistakes, but should I persist! I was not surprised, I did not take umbrage . Facebook is the new opium, and I know how the west had turned oriental addiction to good account in the past . History records that East India Company had come to trade and took control of our lives. It seemed so natural, that I almost ridiculed myself for the first impulse to quit Facebook as a bit of theatrical excess.
The custodians of the representation of reality in a society view themselves in exclusively political terms and they are intolerant of any other reality that is inconsistent with the official account of things . That is why dispensations where only a single reality holds sway, writers are reduced to silence by expulsions, arrests, or by simply being cut-off from all realities for good. Capitalist and communist systems may appear to be hostile and mutually exclusive but they appear to be united in abusing their power in silencing dissent .
But why should ordinary people, people who haltingly and hesitantly string together a few words for the consumption of a few friends be a matter of concern to authorities? Do they seem to believe what Simon de Beauvoir says in her autobiography Adieu that “there are always words of this kind, thrown out absent-mindedly, which are like the absent-minded smoker’s match in some forest…and which set the whole lot ablaze.” In their anxiety they exaggerate the potential of idle musings of insignificant people. Don’t worry Facebook we are not only non combustible , we are inert matter.
The linguist Dan Jurafsky writes of a phenomenon called semantic bleaching, in which words, most often in the affective realm, lose their power with the passage of time, or as George Orwell says because of the lies that they are made to convey. The “awe” fades from “awesome” and the horror is drained out of “horrible” . A tragic spectacle loses its tragedy and remains merely a spectacle. I am reading and hearing a lot of things about my beloved state of Bihar, but unfortunately I am very bad at semantic bleaching . All that I can say is या दिल की सुनो दुनिया वालों , या मुझको अभी चुप रहने दो , मैं ग़म को ख़ुशी कैसे कह दूँ , जो कहते हैं उनको कहने दो।