I am scrolling through Twitter. I have tweeted about the daily displays of sexism I am sick of facing, and got a few favourites.
I am back on Twitter after a very long time, so I find myself going back to my own profile. In my photo gallery here, I am, when I appear, eighteen. Chubby-even more then than now,more pimples,hair freshly shorn. There are other photos too-books I am reading,snug under blankets as I wait for first my board exam results, and then university acceptances to come along. The first few days of college, and I am documenting every stretch of campus I am newly enraptured with.
Instagram. The story is the same. Hazy shots of books strewn across bedsheets, screenshots galore, shrines in dedication to my seventeen-year old mind’s heroes-Jim Morrison, Edie Sedgwick, Talitha Getty, Janis Joplin.These give way to a month spent vacationing in Delhi, then starting university-here again, a campus documented lovingly,if rigorously.
Someone said the digital media has killed albums-photo albums handed down generations, the intimacy of leafing through your childhood, your family huddled round you.
I am sure it has its charms. But..they died with Facebook,with Instagram,with the new non-commitment of Snapchat and Instagram stories-they are replaced,you allege,by something that doesn’t deserve to replace them.
But these are our albums now,our stacks of journals,our letters,and these are our feeble,frantic,tiny histories.
What social media lets us do is tell our own stories. A little filtered maybe, a little adjusted sometimes to suit society’s expectations, or win its approval.
We still document,we still archive,we edit a little with time-who hasn’t?What documentation is, in this age,is a very personal, very individual-if not a little narcissistic, affair.
I am scrolling through Twitter,and I am thinking of nights I spent in a similar way,the glaring blue-and-white screen providing a series of distractions from the inevitable worries-results,college acceptances…I am thinking of playing Mohiner Ghoraguli in my room,alone, on a night like this-and dreaming of all university would open up to me,if only it opened up its gates. I am thinking of the youth I dreamed up and never got to live-the spirit of rebellion bubbling down from the 50s Beats-Hungryalists, and the 60s surges of counterculture-the rebellion that bubbles down to a Facebook post or two.I am thinking of the book by Deborah Baker I read, about the Beats in India-the quotes from the Kolkata chapter neatly archived on my Tumblr. I am thinking of the scarlet dupatta I bought from the Gujarat emporium on my 18th birthday and how pretty it made me feel,how a hashtag #reclaimthebindi made me re-examine everything I have ever learnt about my own culture and its backwardness,its sheer uncoolness.
This is how we assert life,dangling earrings and a selfie-I was here,I flaunted a defiant crimson smile. We leave traces of our thoughts,trickling off our heads,messy and glorious,we scatter our rage and our laughter onto Tumblr #aesthetics.
It is just part of how we live, do not dare tell us we are anything short of majestic.