The Numbers Game is ingrained in our systems. Do you remember the time when we used to put show ‘Stamp Collection’ as a hobby? When you had collected about ten thousand of them you could join the real league irrespective of whether you had any rare ones or not. However, despite the numbers, the rare ones actually mattered; a small minority knew its worth. But, then came the modern times and the Social Media; the Numbers Game became the raison d’etre’ of all of us. A few decades back Prannoy Roy came on the television and proved that a certain small swing of, say, 2.45 percent, made a party, say Congress, come to power (I have already explained what ‘power‘ means). I have explained elsewhere that the government in power enjoys as little as 9 percent of the electorate’s votes (Read my post: How Proud Should We Be Of The Indian Republic at 62?). Hence this swing of 2.45 percent, say, does matter a lot.
|Courtesy: Jack Rabbit|
On the Social Media, one enjoys power by accumulating larger number of friends, followers, likes, comments, shares. This Numbers Game is some sort of a race. TV channels nowadays routinely Break News (Read my Breaking News – Indian Style); for them TRPs is a pure Numbers Game and they would go to any extent to get those numbers right. My friend Hans Sunny from Atlanta, USA is an unparalleled wit I have discovered. However, he recently complained that in comparison to what he puts up, certain girls have to just put up something inane such as ‘Took a bus ride after a long time today’ and they would be assured of at least five dozens likes and three dozens comments. I hadn’t observed it but when I did I found his observation as true as his wit. What could be the reason? Could it be that women were called weaker sex and not heard of earlier but now, in a generational reversal of roles, anything they say is more intelligent, wittier, classier, more unique and spicier? Don’t believe me? Well, how do you account for a certain Madrasan, Raag Shahana and all that, taking the country by storm with her views on Delhi boys in an open letter (Voyeurism of An Open Letter Versus Sane Thoughts)?
For the bloggers community there is a forum in India called IndiBlogger. All its criteria for judging good writing is based on nothing but numbers; and they claim it is fully automated. A post for this forum is an ‘auto detection’ of a blog’s RSS feed; you could write a stanza of four lines and you can write volumes, both are just one post. There are any number of so called Prolific Writers totally adept at this Numbers Game; whose frequency of posting is ‘Excellent’ or ‘Very Good’. IndiBlogger also tells you that one’s Indiblogger Ranking (In addition to Alexa traffic ranking, Moz rank and incoming links) is also dependent upon a ‘Secret Ingredient’ (or “funky stuff that he would like to keep secret“). It doesn’t require knowledge of Rocket Science to know that the so called ‘Secret Ingredient’ is the RSS feed of comments on one’s post; the more the comments, the better the writing. Indeed, on a sub forum called ‘IndiVine’ one is made to believe that if only seven people have voted for you and about 140 have voted for another, the writing of the latter is 20 times better.
Curiously, many people who vote on other people’s posts, in quid pro quo, either leave the URL of their own post in the comments or brazenly demand of the others to vote for them in return (“You scratch my back after I scratch yours“)
Popularity contests are alright as long as we remember that popularity contests often don’t reflect attributes other than those that appeal to masses. Some great Hindi songs such as ‘Mere Mehboob’ never made it to top of the charts in Binaca Geetmala but we still call them the greatest of the oldies. As Lalu Prasad Yadav said when a prima facie case was established against him in ‘fodder scam’, “Iska faisla to janata ki adalat karegi” (This will now be decided in people’s court), knowing well that people in majority are fickle and can be easily swayed.
|Courtesy: Anglo Indian Portal|
Until we re-establish ourselves as a society where quality matters, the Numbers Game assures the success of such jamborees as reality shows; the person who gets the most votes is the best singer, most accomplished writer, best actor, best poet and best everything. We blind ourselves to The Pitfalls Of Majority Rule.
India is the world’s second most populous country. Do we win the most medals in Olympics? Do we have the best ideas that change the world? Is our cricket team, a product of the richest (because more people pay to watch matches and ads) cricket council in the world always the topper; quite the reverse.
I wonder what would be the Moz rank and Alexa traffic ranking of Tagore’s writings in comparison to ‘Choli ke peechhe kya hai’.
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