There is a new profession in town. Criticism! A destructive, no holds barred tearing down of people who are on the rise in their respective fields. And nowhere is it as visible as in the creative arts and the media.
Take Barkha Dutt. Currently on a three month fellowship, in residence at the Brown University, working on her book “The Unquiet Land; Exploring India’s Faultlines”, she fuels an entire industry of noxious denigration. A website called MediaCrooks http://www.mediacrooks.com/ places her at number one on their list of India’s worst journalists. If you look closely, the reasons given are Radiagate, the alleged Kargil and 26/11 journalistic misadventures, her propensity for Pakistan and Rahul Gandhi and the fact that she is the only journalist purported to have a “wardrobe sponsor”. The rest are a lot of words.
Now Barkha Dutt happens to be a “Padma Shri”. She was nominated last year with Sir Richard Attenborough and Ross Kemp for the “International TV Personality of the Year”. She is also a member of the National Integration Council of India and an accomplished conflict zone reporter and TV talk show hostess. About six lakh people follow her on twitter. She writes a weekly column, has interviewed a range of personalities, was the subject of a Bollywood movie and has won umpteen national and international awards.
This speaks of a huge body of work, by any standards, and spanning only sixteen years.
An objective, fact based, professional criticism would have been understandable but downright muckiness forces one to wonder what exactly is at play here. I read some more and found the author claim at one point that on the stated charter of Medaicrooks , “….there were hundreds of provisions to identify and talk about the crooks but not a single one to identify the good ones or the best in the business.”
So there you are, the online destruction stood justified in view of their mission which was to identify the crooks. And what did they do if they did not find any; they manufactured one!
During a recent “We the People” episode on clinical trials, I began a tweet exchange with Barkha Dutt on her bright yellow dupatta and this is how it evolved:
@BDUTT Lovely yellow dupatta! Potential add on to your signature, a vibrant color everytime but then Mediacrooks will allege distraction.
@Honeysangha :))) ha ha do you really pay any attention to them. Thanks :)
@BDUTT Hard put to escape the 24/7 spew emanating from these practitioners of the latest profession in town; criticism for its own sake.
@Honeysangha indeed! but I just block and couldn’t care less :-)
@BDUTT This is the age of dis-information or black propaganda. Wise to rebut or to ignore? Ten people call the rose a weed and that it is!
@Honeysangha disagree completely. If that’s what it takes for a rose to be a weed, so be it. Who cares !
@BDUTT Cheers to that self-assured dismissal! Wish you many more such tweets of well-earned certainty!!
Now I am a Barkha Dutt fan and had hastened to conclude the above exchange on a positive note but the thought that disinformation needed to be addressed lingered.
I believe there are two categories of people where work is concerned. One kind commits, the other comments; one burns the midnight oil, the other burns their hearts; one has no time or inclination to look around, while that is all the other is doing; one is foolish, the other foolhardy.
There is more. The good workers invariably come wired with a deep seated arrogance that blinds them to the hooks dangling in vicinity. So strong is their faith in personal merit, they are either shocked at or outright dismissive of destructive criticism. Neither is effective. In the excessively networked world we inhabit today, there is no escaping connection. Black propaganda exists and the sheer range and reach of digital media puts it out of the harmlessness of just a couple of people talking rubbish. Disinformation today infects the ether, resounds back into the atmosphere and circles the globe, tearing reputations, undermining good work and leading to huge wastes of human endeavor.
Disinformation deserves to be beaten back. A responsible online conduct needs to be canvassed. We ought to care that so much hate is snaking around the web links. Adults, kids, everybody who gets online needs to be watchful, critical and analytical. Is the website genuine? What is their purpose of existence? Is the information they post accurate, current and comparable?
That there are so many disinformation artists and agents clogging the net-ways is hardly reason enough to give up the desire to hear and speak the truth. Silence can be a very deadly sanction !