Journalist turned author and academician Dr. Mahul Brahma is Professor and Dean, School of Media and Communication, Adamas University, and Fellow of Bath Spa University, UK. Besides writing books, he also dabbles in acting in films. He shares his thoughts on his seventh book ‘Mostly Missing: Be Silly Be Slow’
How did you suddenly come up with the concept of the book?
When one goes into life, with the wandering alleys of the times, one tends to forget the raison detre of the birth-death cycle – to live.
And that is what goes missing…mostly. In the daily humdrum of the days of our lives, we tend to miss out on living. And what goes mostly missing is to consciously experience our days and our nights. The two critical aspects that go mostly missing in experiencing our lives fully as we become more and more mature are slowness and silliness.
There is not much literature on these two vital aspects of our lives that is mostly looked down upon in a world dominated by speed and seriousness, or the act of it. Yes, being dead serious or acting is the only acceptable solution if you want to be taken seriously by your family, friends and peers. Along the way your professional life has been mixed with your personal life …earlier they were two peas in a pod and now it is in a plasma state, hard to distinguish. The concept of work from home has eliminated the blurred line between professional and personal space. It was blurred, yes, because the work-life balance was unbalanced to begin with.
The natural outcome was the change in demeanour at home…seriousness finds entry into a space that is meant to be silly, and the fast pace enters a life that is meant to be slow. Slowness and silliness thus have no room left in your office-home space. Need of the hour!
This book, in two parts, explores these two vital elements that are on the verge of extinction in our lives…that are mostly missing!
Please elaborate why you want to ask your readers to be silly in a world where being serious is the need of the hour. There is no time to waste on silliness, we are not kids anymore.
If we remember as a child our rigour to do or get what we want was very strong. To a very great extent the ecosystem had to yield to these. We all have our fair share of such experiences, I for one, remember lying down on a dusty road because I wanted a toy gun and my parents refused to buy it for me. My parents have a list. Most parents do. They laugh, unfortunately, we do too.
Just reflect on this – what is funny in putting your heart and soul into something that you really want? Because it is a toy gun, does that make it silly? Would it have been okay if it were a company acquisition? How is it different?
What do we mean when we talk about being serious? What does being serious assure? Being serious assures attention, focus, and may be sincerity. Not necessarily, not always. But being silly, incidentally also needs a similar commitment.
For example, when you are happy and you know it clap your hands, especially when you really want to show it. This can never happen if you are not paying attention or focus when you need to show your happiness. And sincerity? Absolutely. You have to really sincere to get past your mental block wherein you have already labelled the act as “silly”. A serious commitment indeed.
Years of conditioning and the decreasing patience of the ecosystem has made you accept the action definitions that are “appropriate for your age”. Thus any act that does not fall within the well-defined age-appropriate norms is not acceptable or rather silly.
If you define your life in terms of socially-acceptable norms, then believe me, only death is acceptable. You will not be called names only if you are dead.
Life is beautiful and dynamic, and you are unique. Your acceptable norms are unique.
In the day and age where we are talking about multiscreen and multiverse, when we really are not able to manage our work and life within 24 hours…how can we afford to be slow?
I have always been a strong proponent of slowness. To me, speed has always implied rush and that means I am missing out on life. However, I have realised it is indeed a very unpopular opinion.
Osho had said that you need to come to a point where there is no speed within you, nobody running. In that moment awareness happens – you become enlightened. And there are two poles: one is speed – then you are intoxicated, you become unconscious; the other is no speed – slowed down completely, totally, an absolute stop
But why this craze for speed?
There is a positive correlation between the need for speed and the rate of information intake. The more we are getting into a zone of information overdose from varied mediums the more we are getting addicted to speed.
Imagine a time when we had only one channel, Doordarshan or 2G network or floppy disks with memory of 80 kilobytes. Just a matter of a few decades…and now we can’t even imagine life without 200 megabit per second or 850 plus TV channels with OTT. Research shows that on an average we consume over 100 channels a day while surfing…the younger you are the more is the number. We prefer to watch the same news in 9 different news channels across two languages or more at a time. And the mobile, laptop/ipad and TV act as multiple screens feeding you with information. Companies like Apple are making your life “easy” with seamless streaming between gadgets so that you never get wary of getting a new one or adding a screen to the bouquet.
Science says that it takes 15 minutes to move mentally from one task to another. But then, how come multitasking has become the core skill of our life and time?
Imagine if you keep adding all these 15 minutes that your brain takes to switch tasks? A greater part of the 24 hours is gone in just adjustment. So the more tasks you undertake the more is the cumulative time needed to adjust.
The result is lack of depth and a steady loss of patience and tolerance.
In the day and age of superficial talk, where is the time to take it slow and go deeper into the discourse? Without depth everything becomes noise.
Slowness is looked down upon in the day and age of information overdose as it lowers considerably the need for the overdose and forces a consumer to regulate the consumption of information.
Do we really need five screens? Do we really need to surf at the speed of light all the social media and OTT platforms that we have subscribed to? The adrenaline rush of being completely losing control to information…how addictive is that?
Is speed the new LSD?
Naturally, even as we immerse ourselves in neck-break speed, adrenaline rush and seriousness…at every moment we know deep inside something is missing…mostly.
Let’s start a movement to reclaim our lives - #BeSilly #BeSlow.