Unfollowing on Twitter

Dear Prem,

In the last few days, someone unfollowed you on Twitter and I came to know this only because you chose to make it public. Plainly put your original comment did not make me uncomfortable at all may be because I was still thinking about my own experiences of the fire drill.

Today I choose to write to you because of your retweet that made me uncomfortable. But before I express my displeasure I must let you know why I care to write in the first place.

Between 1997 and 2002, I spent most of my time in countries where following live cricket was not feasible. In some places like Lagos, it was a luxury to get continuous Internet connection (which indeed was a luxury compared to those who did not get continuous electricity). That fourth day at Eden Gardens will be memorable for most who watched Laxman and Rahul bat the whole day. I remember it as the day in Tokyo where while working I revisited live scoreboard on BATS page of my Bloomberg screen confirming no further loss of wickets. It was also the day, you were updating your match reports on rediff; the day three of you were in top form. I remember the day because I felt lucky to read and enjoy your writing which I would have missed otherwise.

I get to watch more live cricket these days but that has not stopped me from tracking you successively at sightscreen, smoke signals and these days on the wordpress pages and now it is not just about cricket. I appreciate your Bhim, developed over months, which depicts Mahabharat in the way original text addresses itself to a mature and ADULT audience.

I think the tweet which disturbed the tennis fanatic from Pune did not bother me so much because I expect you to write freely and in any case those tweets were not offensive to me. But I can fully understand why they may offend someone else. In the followup tweet you did mention about not being PC. I feel that this gentleman probably unfollowed you simply because he felt uncomfortable and not because he expects you to be politically correct. A follower does not expect the followed to think, be or write within preset parameters but under the belief that the content received is well within the boundaries of own comfort.

I did not realise then that soon it will be my turn to feel uncomfortable. I understand that a retweet does not indicate agreeing or endorsing the original content unless expressed explicitly. Yet I wonder, how come the profanities slip through without anyone noticing. Are these so commonplace that we do not bat an eyelid when another one comes our way. We live with these where the environment can’t be chosen. But now should it be welcomed even where we choose the medium?. Even if one is reporting verbatim, does one still put it out so crudely. A few months back, a reader queried The Times of London why does it continue to use asterisks when the swear word can’t be disguised especially when the word is  common knowledge. I guess it is done not because the publisher wants to be Politically Correct. It is just about being correct. Even if the purpose of publishing a profanity is about addressing the concerns around the usage of that term, it continues to make sense to veil it, disguise it. There are cases where it needs to be depicted exactly as it is , not to shock your audience but use the effect to get across the message. This was effectively done in Bandit Queen which I happened to catch uncensored on a South African channel while staying in Lagos. I do not think Shekhar Kapur reverted to this format again since it works when used sparingly and only when required absolutely.

You should and will continue to write exactly the way you please. Your followers do so only because you write that way. If  the content disturbs someone more than it pleases, the choice to unfollow is open to everyone.

Your Follower,

Milind Pandit


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