Voices that Echo

By Shraddhanjali Prakash

Did you see red when you heard about the Delhi rape case? Changed your profile picture too? Posted an FB status? Liked every status which was even remotely associated with the issue? Passionately discussed what is wrong with the system with your friends and colleagues? Followed the news for a whole two weeks? And then?

After two weeks the profile picture was changed back to the one that was clicked at the swanky restaurant you went to with your gang? Started growing tired of the fb status and tweets going on and on about the same thing? Passionate discussions started turning into similar sounding discussions laden with phrases like ‘nothing much in our hands, sorry state of affairs.’? Started advising your friends to now ‘move on, stop ranting’?

Pardon me, my intention is not to accuse anyone of being insensitive or offend anyone in any way. I am just trying to paint a picture of what I keep witnessing first hand, pre and post any such media hyped criminal incident.

Short term memory span

Every day the media is filled with incidents of murder, robbery, assault, kidnappings and suicide. This constant exposure to such incidents has made us immune to them rather than more sensitized. So we flip through the pages like robots, reading about murders of 5 year olds and 7 year olds with an air of detachment, because indeed they have become EVERYDAY. But should not that in itself jolt us back to reality?

However, what jolts us back is not the crime but the deviance of the crime from the assumed ‘normalcy’ of it, if I may say so. So a murder in itself becomes an everyday affair, but what shocks us is when the body is chopped into pieces and strewn all over the city. But is not a life lost in both the cases? Should not both of them revolt us equally?

And for how many days do these cases remain fresh in our memory? So it takes a brutal crime to even make me notice that a crime has been committed in the first place, and it takes me even less time to move past it, onto the next big news.

Its all over the news this second and next day *poof*, media moves on and so do we. And there goes the caravan.

Of course, you may find a little something in the corner of the fourth or the fifth page, in the name of  follow up, which only a handful follow.

Who is to blame?

The question is why don’t we care enough? Why is it so easy for us to forget?

One reason might be because it is not ‘my story’. It is not personal enough, a mere statistic. No personal stakes involved, no added profit, why bother? But rather than thinking in terms of short term gains can we not think in terms of long term consequences. If we don’t nip it in the bud it may just as well become ‘my story’ sooner than we know it.

Another factor contributing to our short term memory might be the media portrayal of the issues. We start seeing only that side of the elephant which the media shows, so we think we are seeing the elephant in totality but all we are actually seeing is just the trunk. It has the power to be the ‘news’, and we let it become the news, rather than doing our research, digging further for facts on our own, we gobble blindly all that is being served on the plate and form opinions based on half baked information. Rather than making informed decisions we end up becoming blind consumers with truck loads of information but little knowledge.

These are not times to forget

There are scores and scores of cases lying stacked one over the other that once saw the light of the day but are now long forgotten, piling layers after layers of dust, because we forgot.

I don’t ask much, just urge you to care, to make it personal. I don’t want you to take to the streets every time you read about a crime, all I ask you to do is consume information critically, to question, to follow through, consider an issue to be more than a mere statistic.

We must start to make informed opinions, to participate and generate meaningful discourse, to remain passionate about issues as if they were our own, to care about them till they become our own. Only then shall we be able to do something about it, only then shall we be able to become humans not rats, only then shall we be able to bring a change. Because only those who care can bring the change, because only those who care become the change.

It’s commendable how people came together to fight for justice in the Delhi rape case, but let’s not let it remain an isolated incident, let’s not leave it at that. There are a lot more battles to be won.

…And miles to go before we sleep.