A (S)troll in the Park

September 17, 2021by Rajeev Hora0

A (S)troll in the Park

Although I am not a great church goer, I have a confession to make. In my four decades of uniformed service, there was not a single class, lecture or conference in which I did not sleep for some time or at least catch a wink…and all that without feeling guilty about it, because somewhere in my subconscious I have this deep rooted belief that it is the responsibility of the speaker to keep me awake. The best speakers were of course always who could intersperse their thoughts with a joke every two minutes or so.

But believe me folks, it has become extremely difficult to crack a joke now a days. You have to ensure that it is not racist, not sexist, not vulgar, can’t hurt religious and political sentiments, ensure that no animals were harmed during conception of the joke and last but not the least, it should not have been earlier floated on a WhatsApp group.

Similar is the fate when you try to share any opinion on social media. When I say ‘any’, I absolutely mean ‘any’! Irrespective of whatever you said or intended, there will always be people with a contra view, who will grind you till the cows come home. In fact, I personally know quite a few who can pick up and defend an argument from any side, much akin to the opposition in our political circles. But then they always say, ‘Don’t wrestle with a pig, you both get filthy and the pig likes it.

I have discovered therefore that it is best to go for soft hilarious statements like “China is scared of our military arsenal” or ‘Global warming is a global phenomenon’ or ‘We will certainly overtake America’s economy in two years.’  Or better still, ‘In their heart, the Taliban are actually quite democratic.’ Even your most hardened critics are bound to say, “You must be joking!” Purpose achieved, I guess?

Well, no one in this world will ever admit that he/ she does not have a sense of humour. But there are a significant number out there who were born san their funny bone. Leave alone satire, they don’t seem to get the obvious joke. The ‘forwards’ are therefore ‘prefixed’ or ‘suffixed’  with ROFL emojis and the Tiktok videos interlaced with background laughter audio so that they get the cue and the attempt to amuse does not totally fall flat.

And then there are the paid troll armies equipped with the power to spit or those with a cause. Engaging the troll armies is like launching a war on terror. Unseen but loud, their singular aim is to shout you down and replace your voice with a taped version of their philosophy. But look at the positive part; you get free of cost advice and multiple perspectives without conducting an international seminar or an expensive conference.

Sinful however is the act of forwarding a funny one which has done the rounds a week earlier. Short of being accused of pre-mature Alzheimer, you will be roasted for insensitivity by not being mindful of other people’s time.

Lastly, how could I forget the omni-present Cheer Brigade? Rather than delving on this one, I thought about sharing with you a joke I used to hear during my school days:

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Jim arrives at the prison where he has to serve out his 10 year sentence. After the formalities involved in processing, he was shown to his cell, which he had to share with another inmate.

 Overwhelmed by the thought of spending the next ten years in this miserable place, he spends most of the day in bed staring at the ceiling. At 10 PM, the guards conducted roll-call, locked all the cells, and turned off the lights. Jim tried to sleep, but couldn’t.

 Around midnight, he was snapped our of his thoughts when someone in the cellblock yelled “TWELVE!”. Then, there was the sound of laughter reverberating around the building. He looked over to his cellmate who was laughing as well. Jim was surprised, but didn’t make much of it.

 A little later, there was a shout of “TWENTY NINE!”! Again, the inmates in the block started to hoot in delight. Jim was intrigued and asked his cellmate, who was doubled over laughing, just what the heck was going on with the numbers.

 “Well…”, said Jim’s cellmate, “…those numbers aren’t random, man. The people in this block have been in here a long time, so long in fact, that we all know each other’s jokes by heart. We numbered them so that they’re easier to tell! You can shout out a number, and every inmate in this building will know what joke you’re talking about!”

 “You’re pulling my leg!”, said Jim. The cellmate chuckles and says, “No, I’m not, man! Look, I’ll show you. Give me a number.”

 Jim shrugs, “Fine… How about 85?”. The cellmate goes to the bars of the cell and yells out “EIGHTY FIVE!”. The whole block starts to howl out laughing. The cellmate looks at Jim and smirks.

 Jim is astonished. “Can I try?”, he asks. The cellmate beckons him to have at it.

Jim gets off his bed and goes over to the bars of the cell. “FIFTY THREE!”, he yells.

 No laughs, only silence. The cellmate says, “Try again.”

 “SIX!”, Jim yells. Still no response. “What happened? Did I choose the wrong jokes?”

Jim’s cellmate sighs, pats him on the back and says, “It’s not the jokes, buddy, you’re just not telling them right.”

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 The only difference today is that it is not about how the joke is being told, but about who is telling it. If you are the leader of the media pack, they will laugh at your joke however stale or lame it may be. Conversely, if you are a threat in any way or not climbed the ladder the hard way, they will make a joke out of you.

So take your pick… stay away, totally immerse or ‘engage to disengage’ like a strike pilot. You can also choose to be an invader, squatter or a casual visitor.

But if you thought social media engagement was going to be stroll in the park, you did not obviously cater for the troll and his bark.

 

Amused,

Horax (Casper)

First published at Seekmediation.com on 17/09/21

Pl contact us at admin@seekmediation.com

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