My latest book is The One Who Swam With The Fishes.

"A mesmerizing account of the well-known story of Matsyagandha ... and her transformation from fisherman’s daughter to Satyavati, Santanu’s royal consort and the Mother/Progenitor of the Kuru clan." - Hindustan Times

"Themes of fate, morality and power overlay a subtle and essential feminism to make this lyrical book a must-read. If this is Madhavan’s first book in the Girls from the Mahabharata series, there is much to look forward to in the months to come." - Open Magazine

"A gleeful dollop of Blytonian magic ... Reddy Madhavan is also able to tackle some fairly sensitive subjects such as identity, the love of and karmic ties with parents, adoption, the first sexual encounter, loneliness, and my favourite, feminist rage." - Scroll

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18 March 2012

In which we ramble on about Social Media Responsibility in a somewhat adult manner

(I tried to write this erudite, all encompassing first sentence, but I'm very mildly hungover and my thoughts are still slightly jumbled, so I'm just going to plunge right in.)

It came to a head when a Facebook fan page I subscribe to, that of an animal shelter that does excellent work and usually places or homes most strays that come their way, had as a status update, details about the brood (is that the right collective? Jumble? Bag? Clutch?) of puppies they had just been foisted with. Included in this update were details about the irresponsible owners, and that's what made me a bit uncomfortable. Rather than just saying, 'oh, you know, this is how the dogs were treated' which was pretty bad in itself, they chose to share that the former owner was blahblahblah (insert details yourself.) I commented on this update, saying pretty much what I'm saying here, don't see how it's relevant and so on and they replied saying the details had been posted to "shame them". 

That brought me to a halt. It's not Animal Shelter's job to shame anyone, surely? They could've said, "The dogs weren't vaccinated and allowed to roam about and get pregnant a lot", which is true and everyone would've been equally shocked and disgusted, but I don't think they had any right, any OBLIGATION even, to put up details like they did. It's like saying, "eM is a bad cat owner and SHE SMOKES." My smoking has nothing to do with my cat owning and for another, it's none of anyone's business whether or not I smoke, but if I was a bad cat owner, then I suppose it would be kind of a social responsibility to tell me off about that. Right?

I think we're going too far with social media. This may seem like I'm being all old school and "oh, no one needs a watchman" but the truth is, words that are written are far more permanent than words that are said. Stuff on the internet lingers forever, coming up like a bad meal during a Google search. 

Then, there's this blogger I sometimes read (mostly because her life couldn't be more different than mine) and she had a post about Kony and how she refused to say anything to her many hundreds of thousand Twitter followers. You can read the post here, but in a nutshell, she just couldn't be bothered, for the most part. She has other things she supports, and she didn't think just because she had that many readers, that she should force something down their throats. Fair enough. This is where my thoughts about social media responsibility get kind of mixed up. Not specifically the whole Kony thing (which is turning out to be a fiasco, by the looks of it) but then I was wondering, if you have, say, over 10,000 Twitter followers or several hundred friends on Facebook or a blog that gets lots of hits, shouldn't you in some way, shape or form, be giving back, as it were? On the other hand, it's not your funeral. You should be able to do what you dos. But, back in the day, if you were a well known journalist or author or something, you picked your cause and you raised awareness about your cause and people still do that and just because we're all on the internet and it's free, doesn't mean that we don't have to help. On the other other hand, maybe your audience is just like, "Dude, we don't want to hear about all the things you're doing to make yourself feel better! We just want the content you normally provide!" and so by posting about these things, you're basically running the risk of losing your readers. 

And, coming back to Facebook, I saw a status on my cousin's wall the other day, where he said he received a bunch of anonymous photos, not too explicit, by someone obviously sending it to the wrong number. He wanted a second opinion on whether it would be okay, if he blurred the faces out, to post them on Facebook. Ultimately, he put himself in the sender's shoes, and decided against it. I don't think a lot of people would be that considerate. 

I love Tripadvisor and consult it regularly, but sometimes, I can't help but wonder if the really, REALLY shit reviews are just someone with an axe to grind. I've started moderating my Twitter somewhat, so that I'm a little less gratuitously bitchy. Do I really want to say that, I ask myself, if I'm having a bad meal or someone in the public sphere is pissing me off and so on. And mostly, I realise, it can be avoided, without losing my honesty to my Twitter followers. 

Naming and shaming is all very well, but I think at some point, we need to draw the line. It's not our job to be the parent to random people on the internet, or be their Supreme Power or whatever. Say what is absolutely necessary (and I know, I know, I haven't always lived by this rule, but I am now.) If typing out something about someone else makes you feel:

a) slightly sick about how they'll react to it.
b) filled with vengeful glee.

you probably should rethink that. 


  1. Totally agree. We need to stop respecting people's privacy. And then I hear of sites that are created to out cheating spouses etc. and shudder. Shaming people in public on the basis of their personal lives? Not cool.

  2. Wtf? People are filled with bullshit. You are allowed to do whatever you want. How is smoking related to you being a bad cat owner? Totally irrelevant.
    Twitter is a place you can actually bitch about shit you don't like. So according to me- one can tweet whatever they want. After all it is THEIR twitter.

  3. Good points, nice post - the internet has given people the 'courage' to 'say' stuff they would have never have dared tell anyone to their face, either for avoiding the guilt of seeing them cry or for avoiding a tight smack.

  4. Interesting!!! I agree its not so much as a social but a moral responsibility to check one selves Speech..... After all having the freedom of speech does not mean abusing it.....

    However please note: one persons terrorist is another`s freedom fighter.... its really an individual moral call.....

    Great Post.... Keep it up.... Cheers!!!

  5. Those are two excellent points you end with. I have another rule I consider most times I am about to post something: Will I share this message with another person if they were right in front of me, without feeling ridiculous? If the answer is no, I don't post it. It helps cut down on useless little whiny notes about the pasta at XYZ place or the attitude of a salesperson at some store. I think it's because the whole entitlement thing that other people display annoys me so much, that it resulted in this self-check.

    I've also been on the other side of the table where I've represented a brand on Twitter (not in official capacity and clearly stating so) and have had people behave so badly that I won't be surprised if brands stopped interacting with customers on such platforms. After all, they're neither obligated to, nor are they ever going to be penalized for not being on Twitter. I'm yet to find a single brand that can say it earned a new customer, because of being on social media alone. It's just another thankless exercise.(Rant over)

  6. Agree. Agree. Agree.

    It seems like we are in the age of "over expression," and social media has given a voice to many people who really should think at least 10 times before even opening their mouths. If you have nothing of value to add to the conversation, why not stay mum?

    Wrote on a related topic some weeks back., for your reading pleasure!

  7. I liked the post and I agree. There was this thing I'd read somewhere about how we should use social media to share more of the stuff that make us happy, rather than immature venting/bitching. There's already enough negativity in the universe. Or something on those lines.
    However, something in this post caught my eye, and not in a good way. Your cousin actually deliberated about posting photos that were sent to him by mistake? Surely that's just unacceptable? I mean, even considering it seems a little weird to me. Do correct me if I misread it.

    1. yup, you read correctly. i think the oversharing might be catching. in his defense though, from what i read on facebook, it seemed they were rather funny. (although, that's not much of a defense, but i guess the point i was trying to make is that he didn't, and many others might have.)

  8. Well said. Very very well said! The post you mentioned above i found it lame. We should use social media as a power and support and not like an influential medium that too to a wrong direction. There is a difference between venting and expressing and people should understand it.
    Keep up the good work as always!

  9. fair enough, Meenakshi:) We should be considerate about others as well to a certain extent..Post we can as long as we don't offend anyone.
    cheerio babe. You simply rock

  10. Hey didn't you post the photograph and full details of the man who broke your friend's heart a few months ago? Isn't it more or less the same principle? Wouldn't this post be a little hypocritical then?

  11. @ Unknown, I think that was a pic of a con-man who was out to swindle women, a warning to people to be careful if we met him. The intentions behind that post was completely different.


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