An Intolerant Time May 14, 2012 Opinion By Arjun Juneja The intolerant race seems to grow in leaps and bounds. We reside with over 7 billion people on this planet and we care for very few of them. The rest don’t ask for approval or forgiveness, but do they ask for our judgement? Opinions have stood the test of time and warranted or unwarranted, the ones with opinions seek to have a say. Be it trolling or actual concern about the subject on hand. The internet allows people a say, and so we listen. Aside from the literati and professionals in ever burgeoning fields, ‘people’ can express what they want with little fear. And that may make all the difference in the 21st century. A 10 year old who submitted an idea that would solve the debt crisis in Europe had the world swooning over his innocuous thoughts. Pippa Middleton, the sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, had millions of men and women leering at pictures of her backside at the royal wedding, for different reasons. Whatever they may have done, they had a series of people commenting on their actions. As different as their actions were that propelled them to the limelight, a common factor remains that people put in their two cents about them for they seemed to matter. The vastness of the internet is without debate even as we put everything under our own little microscopes through social networks and otherwise. We dissect people, events and objects without cause and it may be so for a fully-functional democracy. The internet becomes a democracy in certain ways, as pundits and users alike share ideas among their circle of subscribers- be it friends, family or actual subscribers to their views, for whatever reason. They share, and so do we. Many would proselytize that sharing is the future. Perhaps, the present generation is already in the future, and looking back with glee and pity at those left behind. But sharing does not seem to have made us more tolerant. I cannot cite facts and figures for measuring these levels of tolerance. Nor can I map its rise and fall, and nor do I intend that. I intend to have a say. With the world shrinking through our very browsers, the six degrees of separation too have shrunk. Or so Facebook stated in a report citing the degrees of separation to be 3.74/4.74. Whatever it may be, it is tough to contradict that we may connect to people worldwide with relative ease in contrast to contacting people in our own cities. Simply put, contacting people in most countries with internet access is easier. But that may not have caused a change in our way of thinking. Not yet. Natures may vary worldwide but not sentiments. We all hurt in the same way. Emotionally we may differ, but we all bleed when struck with stones. Some may be strong enough to ward off words, but not all of us can ignore callous statements. It must be like that. We are different people shaped by our environments and communities, but we can control our ideals. They are not bound to anybody, but to principles harvested from our morals. And with the flexibility of ideals, lies the key to our thought process. But even the reams of information available may not be sufficient to tilt our minds towards what is right. Views are multifaceted and come from places and people we may not know of. No one view may be accurate enough to gauge an event or a person, but there is always a view for what is right. In the latest issue of Time Magazine, to hit newsstands on 21st of May 2012, the cover portrays a young mother breastfeeding her 3 year old. Arguably a controversial cover, the story behind the posed photo lies in the pages of the renowned magazine. Opinions are what certain parts of society thrive upon. Everybody is entitled to their opinion in their place on the internet but if so, the commented upon must maintain the right to redress. There is no harm in debating the aesthetics to death as there may not be a single accurate view. But there can be a right view, and perhaps, it is that the cover could be viewed from the auspices of those who have read and understood the story. Again, it is but a view which will be read by few. The subject matter is not the delightful idea proposed by a 10 year old, the fitness level of the younger Middleton sister or Time’s cover image. These and other such events come under the attack of opinions of millions, if not billions of people. Intolerance is the matter that needs to be addressed/ redressed, as it may. It impinges on our lives in myriad ways and while a public profile may provoke greater outrage over its impact, it is of no less importance to all of us. It’s a little thing among the mighty big things shaping our lives. But we have to start from somewhere. Why not here, why not today.