This is an open, dear letter to all the legitimate souls on the internet, who are unable to withstand others’ opinions, pictures, videos, and ideas. Are you that guy/girl who sends your d***/b*** pictures on a private message (privacy [in]dignity) to people who post their passionate yoga videos, dance pictures, and outfits? (Especially on Instagram?) I feel you. I totally feel you. But let me confess something as I take your side. Wait, I don’t do that. I’d never do it because I find happiness and joy in different things like writing, reading, dancing and spending time with people I love. But I find your intentions and approach very strange and … ok, let’s just use strange for now. I do not believe in giving a voice to a criminal/culprit who has confessed his guilt. With rising rape incidents, I believe rapists should be denied expression of opinions. They are far from human species and I do not know what, but they have got a long way to get back into their human skin. Alright, I am excusing that and taking your side now, dear hate-mongers.
I have been feeling challenged as I am wondering how to put my thoughts out. This does not feel easy. Online content such as news and personal opinions may annoy you because all of us judge and all of us have some degree of hypocrisy. The question is about who you are as a person, and how you respond to such data. Damn, what is the best way to do this? I want to be quite careful about each and every word I put out here. Ok. I am going to take a few examples and jump straight into the dirt. Instagram is an amazing online community that bears billions of stories on an hourly basis. People world over, share their stories through the eye of their phone camera and so much of it, is so very inspiring, beautiful, funny and thoughtful. Some are life-changing indeed.
Story 1 – I come across a lot of yoga poses and pictures on Instagram in which the yogis explain what they are trying to achieve in a specific asana(pose). A lot of the before and after posts were a story of transformation and had information about dealing with inner fears and sometimes flexibility. I am an infant student of yoga and I find these posts refreshing my day. After my yoga class, a ton of YouTube tutorials and reading materials have failed to make me understand a specific technique. Many a time, the magic has unfolded after seeing an Instagram yogi explains the specific pose and demonstrates it in their post. The almost nude/naked/bikini/yoga clothing posts are so damn on point because as a student, I learn it for free plus it turns out to be a Eureka moment. That joy and the completeness has to be experienced. It is the joy of learning and learning the right way. I am awed by their courage to open up and post, barring all their inhibitions and vulnerability of judgments.
Holding the core, stiffening the shoulders and making up your mind is not as easy as sending an “I want to have SEX with you” DM. It is far more difficult and demanding than a demeaning comment on their post. Apart from ruining your own opportunity to get inspired, you are bringing down the spirit of an innocent person who is working so hard to push themselves harder to get better. Of course, they are going to move on from you, but the trauma you create is irreversible. It is a scar.
Do you think the yogis need to be enlightened about the dresses that you find obscene? Who are you at all in the first place? Okay, I am your advocate. So let’s look at this way. What if they try to dress “better” according to your standards and someone like you, does not like it and ends up sending demeaning DMs and comments just like you did? Victims remain victims yet. Doesn’t work. If you are trying to excuse yourself because they were not dressed well, read on the next case.
Story 2 – I am keeping it simple this time and let’s take up an (Indian) classical dancer. Why? Indian classical dancing (traditionally) has traditional (read full-cover) attire. It is hard to find (or discover or get a Ph.D. on) anything remotely obscene there. But then, she gets harassed on Instagram again. She gives up on her past silence and makes a post on it that goes like this.
Did you read the first line of her post? It was not her first time. It was several instances (days) of suppressed anger and confusion as to why somebody would send such profanity. She failed to understand their (your) ignorance and blasphemy. She has already tried ignoring, blocking and moving on. But (you) guys seem to hide under those sober t-shirts and jeans at the corner of every street, in the buses, trains, theaters, toilets, walkways, schools, colleges, homes (!) and now online as well. Thanks to technology for keeping your brains blunt and offering you an extra pair of evil eyes. Okay, I am your advocate. Let’s see.
Boy, are we damned? Not yet. Next is the story of an activist (Uh-Oh!).
Story 3 – A friend of mine who keeps posting sweet updates on food, family, books, and places. She is also an activist. Her soft soul has had enough of your scars that keeps giving her panic sweats. Okay. I am your advocate. Why was she harassed with “SEX” in her DMs? She did not post with “obscene” dresses. She did not post dance videos that “YOU” didn’t like. What was it with her now? Oh wait, you guys are the breed that would suffocate an eight-year-old diaper, aren’t you? Okay, I am your advocate. Let’s calm down.
I guess we are damned now dear hate-mongering, sex-begging, cyber-bullying, human-disguised-demons! You wouldn’t back down if one woman pushed you out. Not when 10, 100, 1000s do it with all their #MeToo confessions. Now all the men, women and every sane soul on the internet are forming a #cyberchain and plotting to rip you apart through channels such as Gentlemen Of India (insta handle @gentlemenofindia), Everyday sexism project (Twitter handle @everydaysexismproject) and #AWARIANS (insta handle @awarians).
You have gotten yourself here. It is never too late. By now, you should be having panic sweats and near trauma conditions if you did any of what is shared above. But that is okay. There is still time. Move on and try to develop a perspective that sees the good in others. If you find a post irrelevant, move on. If you find it pleasing, be encouraging. Harassing others will get you nowhere. Oh wait, it could legally land you in jail! We. Are. Damned.
Dear hater, I am so sorry I could not advocate you no matter how much I try to see if there was an ounce of sense in your actions and intentions. How others dress is never your concern, choice or business. How you perceive things and people, and how you react, maybe under your control if you choose this as your redemption point. If not, we are coming for you b******. Next time you have a reaction to something, scroll up this post, read about my contemplations and challenges I faced as I tried to broach and approach something that disturbed me. If you still possess a good human mind, you would have gotten your answer already.
The petitions I supported alongside this issue –
Reporting Rules on Instagram
Report rape threats against women