Hey Corona Warriors, Can You Please Stop Social Distancing from Your Intellect?

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Hey Corona Warriors, Can You Please Stop Social Distancing from Your Intellect?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

When Modiji decided to address the nation last week my first reaction was, “Damn it, the queues at the ATMs will be longer this time, because everyone has to maintain mandatory six-feet gap.” But I needn’t have worried. Modi did a good job with the speech. He realised it is going to be very tough to get one billion Indians to suddenly lock themselves up. So he decided to package the whole thing in a way Indians understand it best – a reality show format.

He gave it an impactful name, “Janata Curfew” as opposed to Pradhan Mantri Curfew Yojana. He introduced rules: 7 am to 9 pm, everyone indoors. And then just to ensure people don’t lose interest, he even introduced a task at a designated time, that of clapping or banging utensils to convey your thanks to the medical staff of this country. This reality show format has generally always worked with the masses. In fact, we’d have better voter turnouts in India if we followed this – call the elections “India’s Vote Talent”, sign up Salman Khan as the host, and then telecast it live on Colors TV.

Anyway, Modiji’s plan was all going well until WhatsApp decided to play its part. Suddenly an innocuous act of acknowledgement turned into a science fest that made Newton turn in his grave, mainly due the vibrations caused by the hollow skulls of some of our countrymen.

But I underestimated the professors of the University of WhatsApp (AICTE approved).

So when 5 pm arrived on Sunday, the designated acknowledgment exercise turned into a very weird data-gathering one: The government automatically collected data on the exact number of confirmed dumb fuck cases in the country. People took to the streets with their banging thaalis to take on the virus believing that the vibrations caused by all the clapping and howling would destroy the virus. I’m sure this set of people also believes that Nayan Mongia has a masters in biotechnology for standing behind the stumps through the ’90s because he was always loudly clapping and shouting, “Bowling Anil Bhai, come on.”

How is it that people are willing to believe something as ludicrous as a billion people clapping together can create a vibration that can annihilate the virus, but they refuse to believe something as logical as coming in close proximity to someone will aid in spreading the damn virus? The next thing that the students of the University of WhatsApp (UGC approved) believed was that curfew was for 14 hours because the virus takes 12 hours to die. I like how people didn’t trust fake science also fully. They gave themselves two hours grace period just in case all the virus didn’t go away.

Indians are treating this virus like a Bobby Deol movie. It will disappear from the box office in 12 hours if you do “Jhoom Barabar Jhoom” on the streets.

This, despite the fact that I think we are in the throes of a benign virus. Look, I know it’s completely crazy, but for someone who wants to end the human race, this coronavirus is actually coming across as quite an accommodating and genuinely warm virus, rooting for us to win this fight. It has given us the simplest option to save ourselves. Stay the fuck home, enjoy some me-time, watch some Netflix, spend time with your family, and reflect. This virus actually wants to make humanity better, because if it really wanted to mess with us, it would have found harsher ways. But no, we still want to mess with this caring and understanding virus.

Suddenly an innocuous act of acknowledgement turned into a science fest that made Newton turn in his grave.

And when the virus is  being so co-operative, the least we can do is chill and respect the virus. Not anger the damn thing to evolve into something more evil.

It might sound crazy but when this whole thing started, I thought WhatsApp could actually be the vaccine we needed to fight corona. “According to the meteorological department, 16 sneezes were recorded in Vashi, so nobody in Navi Mumbai touch your face. Spread this message before the virus spreads.” If this forward can get all of Navi Mumbai to not touch their faces, that’s one big chunk of the city out of danger.

If there’s anything that can help us survive these strange times, it’s mass paranoia. So after years of spreading mass hate, fake news, bigotry, sexism, casteism, xenophobia etc., I thought WhatsApp’s moment is finally here. Because right now, all you need is paranoia, fear, and manipulation of set habits. And all of these are essential ingredients of every WhatsApp forward.

The Prime Minister realised it is going to be very tough to get one billion Indians to suddenly lock themselves up.

But I underestimated the professors of the University of WhatsApp (AICTE approved). This isn’t the war against the virus that we are fighting – we are waging a war against stupid, because this time we are as weak as our weakest link. We can keep off all the surfaces we want to, wash our hands a zillion times, but if someone who got infected during the virus visarjan happened to sneeze on our lift button, there is no saving anyone. Look, Modiji hoped he would sell a TV show to the country. But this isn’t that one. This has turned out like the Zee Horror Show. Everything about this virus is twisted.

It looks like coronavirus emerged more out of the Joker than bats. It reeks of sadism. Introduce chaos into the system. Create a situation where you put an entire race under threat. And then give all the power in the world to the dumb to help save the day. If you don’t believe me, just look at the world around us: We are at a time when possibly the stupidest people are leading the free world. Donald Trump in the US, Boris Johnson leading Great Britain, and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil. Perhaps for the first time, India isn’t going to be divided over religion. It will be divided over IQ. A war where we are fighting against people who socially distance themselves from their intellect. But unfortunately here, if the idiot wins, everyone loses.

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