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Online Outrage: Our New National Pastime

26/01/2015 8:00 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
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A participant uses his laptop computer during the fifth edition of Open Hack India, a 24-hour non-stop hacking event organised by Yahoo! India R&D, in Bangalore on August 11, 2012. Over 700 Indian software developers from across 20 states are participating in the marathon Open Hack event. AFP PHOTO/Manjunath KIRAN (Photo credit should read Manjunath Kiran/AFP/GettyImages)

If you have lived in urban India over the past decade, one thing you would have definitely noticed, apart from the increase in affluence and connectivity, is how much more we have started to outrage. The past decade saw an increase in the number of people getting online thanks to the mobile. It's not uncommon to see even the most impoverished man on the street holding a smartphone these days.

There was a time when Mahesh Bhatt used to be the only person who had an opinion on everything under the sun. Then came along the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Though initially things were restricted to sharing pictures and videos, slowly people starting putting forth their opinions online. Opinion on just about everything from movies to the latest scams.

It helped that our news channels in the quest for higher TRP's flagellated the viewers into getting outraged night after night. So, every night we have news channels coming out with weird and sometimes funny hashtags flooding the online space encouraging viewers to vent. When the clock strikes 9 every night, the online space resembles a mini war zone. Anger and rage fly thick and fast, fights break out, trolls have a field day and the cycle repeats the next day.

The amount of online outrage is measured in the number of likes you get on Facebook or the number of retweets you get for your status, the hashtag with the most tweets and so on. There is always the game of one-upmanship going on as to who has expressed the best outrage online. Not to forget the funny status updates that helps calm the tempers down to a point.

So what exactly is India outraging about? The favourite topic is the big C , corruption. Oh how we love to flog our politicians. From scams to foot-in-the-mouth, not a day passes without some politician or the other getting the online ire. Things only get worse if the said politician has an online presence .The net is such an equaliser in that aspect. A volley of the choicest abuses is poured onto him/her who otherwise would have been out of bounds for the lesser mortals.

Other topics which have got a lot of traction online includes increasing crimes against women, religious intolerance, terrorism and the occasional spat between fans of our superstars. You name it, we have already outraged about it.

But hey, it's not as bad as you think it sounds. Many-a-times thanks to the outrage online, statements have been withdrawn, policies rolled back, the mighty been made to apologise and the guilty been brought to book. So yes, outrage is not such a bad thing after all.

However, the sad part here is that the outrage is short-lived. We tend to quickly forget and latch onto the next topic the very next day or at the most the next week. But at the end of the day the online space has given all and sundry a space to vent out, whether for good or bad. So here is to all the #angryyoungmen and #angryyoungwomen out there .