Get your hands dirty: Day one of ‘a post a day’

Today I was on the phone with my friend, brother, and mentor Srinivasa Ramanujam. He called me sensing that I was not seeing the light at the end of tunnel, and he sensed that I was thinking the light is that of an approaching train. It was soothing to talk to someone you trust and someone who understands you well. This blog post is a result of the talk. Well I have to start somehow, so today’s topic will be about the talk that started it.

He mainly asked me to stop thinking too much, start acting, and “get my hands dirty”. He also narrated a story of two woodcutters. Both went to the forest at 9 am and returned at 5 pm. One was highly successful and rich; the other was poor and miserable. The poor woodcutters wife accompanied the two to the forest one day to find out why her husband was poor and the other guy rich. She noticed that the rich guy took a break every 1 hr, whereas her husband continuously worked. On approaching the rich guy and enquiring why despite taking breaks he was successful, he replied, “In the break I sharpen my axe so that it is never blunt. This increases my productivity.” The moral of the story is to keep the mind sharp so that long unproductive hours go away to be replaced by enjoyable productive work. For this, Ramanujam suggested many ways, and hopefully, out of respect for him, I will follow. One of the suggestions was to write a blog post daily about any one thing. Forget about grammar and prose in the beginning. Just start writing, and persist, things will follow.

Today is a beginning. Everyday is a beginning. I will see the light at the end of tunnel and I won’t be scared that it is the train.

“What’s on your mind?”

“<name> cgpa IIT Madras” (name removed for anonymity) This was a search term which led someone to my blog. And on discussion with my friend (<name>) he suggested who might have done this search. This got me thinking. So are we really safe in this web world? Come on! People are googling for cgpa of me/my friends and it is directing them to my blog. (Secretly I am happy that my blog got one more hit, but the matter in hand is important.)

Often, I myself have set my status without thinking about consequences. Maybe, I took what Facebook asked seriously, “What’s on your mind?” Thinking back, it seems foolish to blurt out whatever came to mind, to create a searchable e-evidence of my thoughts. Pensive, ladies and gentlemen?

The person’s name, the tags cgpa and iit madras were on my blog and maybe that led google to my blog when the particular combination was searched. However, now we can be assured that people search for things which you might not want them to know. E-Stalking is so easy. It feels weird to know that someone actually wanted to know this sort of information. So I should be more careful when I post something in the future.

And we are to blame, by letting the world know sensitive personal information or ideologies. Yes, Ideologies. Should I say pseudo-ideologies? I digress. Often on my news feed and buzz feed, stupid statements about political and religious pseudo ideologies pop up and it is with great restraint that I have to hold back from commenting. The statements make me wonder if they actually know what Das Capital is or what Engels actually meant. Or even, if they are aware that the INC is supposed to be a socialist party and India a Socialist democracy. Anything to the right of left is not capitalism, my dear friends.

Coming back to protecting information, if you have not already done so, do check out Facebook privacy settings and control what posts others should read and what you wish to hide from certain people. Some of the options are really nice.

Also it was interesting for me to note that some of my acquaintances on FB actually read my posts and refrain from commenting, maybe because they are afraid that they will be notified for further comments that are irrelevant to them. I found it interesting because I was sure they had hidden my updates in their feeds. ‘Bacn’, as they call it, is annoying. Facebook should come up with some mechanism in which one can comment without getting bugged later. This can ensure that social relationships are maintained better in a world where LOLing and slash m slashing are used even in face-to-face conversations.

Deactivating your account is not a solution to myriad problems of this kind. On the other hand, deactivating is similar to how a panel recommended replacing ceiling fans with pedestal fans for reducing suicides in IIT. It is absurd. By exercising caution, Facebook can be used for constructive purposes. After all, it is an amazing platform for online marketing. Specific target delivery of relevant ads is possible. Extremely useful to get some kickass deals, this aspect is yet to catch up with businesses in India whereas I saw many such deals in Toronto.

Only thing to consider, next time you update your status, beware! There are numerous stalkers out there who feed on information you dissipate and the world actually believes you are a particular type of person from the posts and links you share.