Humour by Rehana Munir: Five celebrations for the Age of Insta
Hello and Happy World Contraception Day! It’s a thing, it’s today, and I urge you all to celebrate responsibly. It’s a fertile moment to recommend a few contemporary activities that could do with a global observance day of their own, if only on social media.
Cloud Photography Day
Sometime in the early days of the pandemic, the world discovered clouds. By the world I mean those lucky enough to have some kind of view of the sky, and a phone that can zoom as well as an organiser of online self-improvement workshops. Locked up in our prison cells, we looked to the heavens seeking freedom and meaning. What we got was fluffy masses of condensed water vapour that we imbued with our own interpretations. A kind of Rorschach ink blot test in the sky.
“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all”
sang the beautifully broken Joni Mitchell. I too have looked at clouds—through Insta pics—and emerged none the wiser.
Inspirational Quote Day
Who are we if not the sum total of the quotes we post on SM? The Internet peddles quotable quotes like a bootlegger on a mission; no one knows the provenance of these wares, but they’re there when you need them most. Misattributions abound. Like this famous one, tagged everywhere as a Hemingway quote: “Write drunk; edit sober.” Yes, it sounds like everyone’s favourite literary shipwreck, but turns out there’s no proof that links the quote to the novelist. The same goes for so many quotes ascribed to Oscar Wilde, the flamboyant fount of gallons of sparkling wit. Fellow humourist Dorothy Parker summed it up best:
“If, with the literate, I am
Impelled to try an epigram,
I never seek to take the credit;
We all assume that Oscar said it.”
Yoga Pose Day
For all its meditative associations, yoga is a madly competitive sport in the virtual world. Hardly a day goes by when I do not see a post featuring a sweaty body performing contortionist feats of varying brilliance, all with a smug smile aimed at the chronically inflexible. Often, these feats are performed in scenic locations by an uncommonly attractive specimen in flattering workout attire, making me reconsider my own exercise apparel that I dignify with the label “athleisure wear”. The headstand is a particular favourite with the Insta yogis; I too aspire to that upside-down view of things, confronting the absurdity of reality with an equally absurd perspective.
Pet Parade Day
The older I grow, the less I want to have a pet myself. That is not to say I do not love the pets of others: so playful, so adorable, so someone else’s responsibility. For us “lazy, selfish and heartless” types, the constant online updates of proud pet people are a portal to another world. Pets reclining. Pets plotting murder. Pets dispensing affection. Pets in strange places. And so on. The latest iPhone campaign, with billboards everywhere, plays on the ubiquity of pet photos. However, the black and white close-ups of pets in human clothing and accessories give me the creeps. An advertising misfire, I feel. The best thing about pets is that they aren’t human, right pet people?
Food Fad Day
Scrambling an egg with some leftover sabzi this morning, I examined the result and was struck by how perfectly unphotogenic the result was. Then I stripped a slice of processed cheese to add to the general uncoolness of the plate and thought of kombucha. It’s a kind of fermented tea, I’m told, making me instantly recoil in horror. But it’s inescapable these days. Just like kale and edamame were when they first captured the collective imagination of the diet deities of Khan Market and Pali Naka, and from there, the menus of woke cafés everywhere. Sugar went from white to brown to raw to absent. Meals from frequent to intermittent. Avocado toast and overnight oats became a needlessly big deal. And now we’re in the micro-era (I hope) of kombucha. I confess I love scrolling through pictures of artfully-plated meals featuring the most mindful recipes. While eating my comfortingly messy eggs scrambled with leftover sabzi.
Follow @rehana_munir on Twitter and Instagram
From HT Brunch, September 26, 2021
Follow us on twitter.com/HTBrunch
Connect with us on facebook.com/hindustantimesbrunch