Why this deluge of notifications today?
The buzz of notifications was relentless. The unread messages were piling up since I had switched on the phone in the morning; and I had no idea why this was happening!!
I couldn’t recall any birthdays or anniversaries.
Maybe one of the new happening stuff- like happy report card days-on the (many) family groups that I was a compulsory member of? But it wasn’t just the family groups. The alumni groups, the condominium groups, school parent groups, upcycling group- all were abuzz.The group that we had made with our mason and painter when we renovated our home last year too!! (Need to delete this one).
If it was a festival today, why wasn’t it a holiday? At least I would have been saved the Monday Morning blues. Must be just a “Happy Monday” or a “good morning” blitzkrieg, with people spreading the cheer exponentially.
(On an unrelated note, are there any global studies that compare the percentage of messages forwarded on WhatsApp in different countries? That is a chart that India can top. We are WhatsApp Olympic champion material for sure)
Gmail also was announcing an alarming number of unread messages. (Digression alert: - Do any of you remember how Gmail was by strictly by invitation when it started out? Do you wish to turn the time clock back when you see your spam folder too?). Text, banners, attachments, pop-ups announcing discounts on products that I didn’t think I would ever need.
Aah, Women’s Day.
The newspaper had columns of comments by celebrities and people trying to be celebrities about the special qualities of womankind.
It was evening after a busy day at work that I finally managed to return to my phone.
So much to scroll through, and so little time!!
This is where spending so much time on whatsapp daily would finally be put to use.
All of us were unique, a message marked forwarded many times, announced.
There was this message raising a toast to a compassionate, balanced, and powerful woman. I didnt feel particularly compassionate (or balanced!) when it took me 4 attempts to check boxes with fire hydrants or boats or buses just to open a webpage, so I shrugged it off.
Then there was the message from my relationship manager from the bank that called me beautiful and pretty and charming. Guess it was the effect of the filters on the new profile pic that I had set up after cropping a very close friend out. (Do you also struggle to set up a dp that is appropriate for everyone in your life-the boss, the newspaper vendor and your domestic helper's spouse??)
It was a little confusing to be called ambitious and self-sacrificing or traditional and modern at the same time; but we seem to live harmoniously in conflict these days…so I would let that pass.
A hindi message assured me I could make life ‘swarg’… I wondered if the sender (my erstwhile dry cleaner, from a few years ago) realized he had got ‘swag’ mixed up.
There were some compliments for nurturing and perfectly looking after my family. I wondered if I should divulge that I paid the premium delivery fee on the grocery app to ensure the steady stock of Kurkure and chips.
The message that assured me I was the epitome of a perfect home, gave me just a slight twinge of guilt as I snuggled deeper into the bed that I had left unmade in the morning. The pillow cases didnt match the sheets either, but I put that behind me (literally!!)
The salon-a new one, just across the one I usually visit- messaged too. They were offering free services and discounts on memebrships. But what I really needed was the gift of time to utilize any of their services.
A beacon of peace and love. Must delete this before the children remind me how I holler at them to wake up in the morning.
Infinitely patient; hmm, maybe, or not; especially when the Wi-Fi is down, or when I am dealing with customer service. Ironically that message was from the RO service company who had not provided his last service (and had recieved quite a nasty feedback from me!!)
The restaurant whose daal makhani I often pass of as mine (shh!) had designed a special message telling me how I add unique flavor to all that I cook (Cheat sheet: You must try the Maggi masala-e-magic sometime).
Multitasker and focused the next one said. They were right, I was scrolling through all the Whatsapp groups and focusing on ordering a pizza at the same time.
One message announced that a hero is zero without ‘Her’. Maybe some new concept of blending language and math-will have to figure if kiddos need to sign up for this to be new-age learners.
The poetic changed to the prophetic, with the message that insisted I shall provide eternal strength to humanity. I can’t think of how I would do this, except for suggesting a drink to everyone, especially the sender of this message).
Then the ones that spelled out “woman” in the letters it was made up of. While ‘wonderful’ and 'marvelous' sounded fine; the “N: Nice gift to men” had me flummoxed. Maybe they meant that I would receive a nice gift from someone inspired by the many advertisements in the newspaper.
So many of the messages had been forwarded by women that I made a mental note to call them and ask how they had recovered from the identity crisis that these messages were pushing me into.
Then there was the one that said I was the base on which the world stands. That’s a lot to shoulder. What would happen to the planet if I shrugged? Or sneezed?
And then, as always, the best for the last?
I am apparently Magic.
Wouldn’t I like to resort to some voodoo and black magic to figure out who thinks up these messages!
I finally ditched my phone to catch up with an excellent discussion on financial empowerment for women, so that I can buy whatever I wish for, whenever I need to.
If anyone is still desirous of gifting me something after reading this post, please go beyond the pressure cookers, dining sets, or beauty creams. I am open to gift cards for museums, vacations, rock climbing expeditions, football coaching or books. Shares to add to my portfolio would be great too.
This blog post started as a random rant on facebook on International Women's Day (8th March) 2021, where I wrote sarcastically about the messages that were going viral. It became a tongue -in-cheek write up that was also featured in part on other platforms.
These are messages that are shared widely on days like Women's day, and this was my way of calling them out. The messages have their origin in misogyny and patriarchy, and end up setting completely unrealistic goalposts; yet will be infinitely forwarded to and by women as well as men. Both genders will internalize these concepts, as they have done for years, actually, generations. They become the benchmark for expectations by men, and standards to live up to for women, and they will continue to find their way through telecom spectrum year after year.
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