There comes a time in every person’s life when all he can do is sit back, look around and try to identify the exact moment when the collective wisdom and morality of the world’s population went flaming into the gutter.
Yes, Maria Sharapova was quoted as saying she does not know who Sachin Tendulkar is. No, that is not a reason why a whole host of Sachin-worshippers from India should feel duty-bound to defend their idol by whatever means necessary.
Last heard, a sizeable number of Indians were spending their leisurely afternoons posting nasty, unspeakable abuses on Sharapova’s official Facebook page and Twitter handle. Millions of others, meanwhile, were putting up outraged status updates that aimed to uphold the dignity of their man by vilifying the character and supposed sexual indiscretions of the Russian star.
And the slightly wittier (but no less childish) ones were busy combining their jingoistic and creative sides by coming up with funny tweets and memes.
The way some people have gone about ‘defending’ Tendulkar, you’d think the man has personally appointed every single Indian as his virtual bodyguard. “Defend my honour like it’s the last thing you’re ever going to do. And if anyone dares to betray ignorance of my records or my place in sporting history, bring down the wrath of a thousand Rakhi Sawants upon that undeserving piece of shit,” Tendulkar might have said during the hiring process.
That's what it seems like at any rate.
I’m not even exaggerating here. The politest descriptions of Sharapova after her 'blasphemous' revelation have ranged from ‘bitch’ to ‘slut’, with some even branding her an ‘atheist’. You can only imagine what the less polite adjectives must sound like.
This is not the first time Sharapova has earned the ire of people for her supposed lack of knowledge. During the French Open she sent a flutter through the British media by claiming she didn’t know who Judy Murray was. If I didn’t know better, I’d say Sharapova is developing some kind of pattern here. What is she going to say next, that she doesn’t know who Rajnikanth is? HOW DARE SHE!!!
Of course, lost amid all the brouhaha is the fact that for a professional athlete, not finding the time to delve into sporting events that have nothing to do with your ultra-competitive field is completely natural. You don’t have to be a sports historian to be a sportswoman. To qualify as a champion of your own sport, you don’t need to familiarize yourself with the names of great players from other sports that are completely alien to your country and culture.
If you are so focussed on your own game and training routines that you neglect going through the sports section of your daily newspaper, that’s perfectly understandable.
But does any of that matter to the apoplectic Indian social media populace? Not in the slightest. The only thing that matters is that Sharapova has ‘insulted’ the legacy of the great Tendulkar. Oh the abomination!
So yes, all of this has prompted me to sit back and wonder: how could things have come down to this level? How could we have ever let ourselves turn into a raging mass of revolting stupidity? Where did it all go wrong with humanity?
As with all metaphysical questions, there’s no straight answer to this. Some would say it all began with the advent of social media. Giving people the power to make their voice known might have sounded like a good idea at first, but clearly, we forgot that power is a dangerous thing to give away so freely.
“With great power comes great responsibility”, goes one of the more cliched Hollywood lines of our generation, but times like this make even comic books and Spider-man sound like treasure troves of exalted wisdom.
Will the dumb nastiness ever end? Probably not, unless Sharapova personally issues an apology for her supposed gaffe. And even then, there might still be scores of unconvinced b%#^-hurt Sachin-worshippers who would find it easier to brand Sharapova a bitch than take a look at how little they themselves know of athletes from other countries.
It’s a weird world we live in. And I for one am just sorry that the likes of Sharapova and Tendulkar have to put up with the kind of ‘sports fans’ that they’ve been saddled with.