Quickly, here’s the scenario. A bunch of aliens intend to visit Earth–let’s say they want to admire sunsets from Earth perspective or they want to sample some burgers or get laid or for some other wacky alien notion too advanced for us to grasp.
Of course, as they are aliens with an average IQ of one zillion, they are far too smart to understand why there is no single world leader whom they can introduce themselves to when they arrive on earth. Aliens almost always have a supreme leader; and they would naturally expect the same cratology (new word!) from humans. Accordingly, the first task of our Michael Jackson abducting aliens would be to determine who on earth is the Main Guy, The Grand Kahuna, The Great Panjandrum, The Big Swinging Dick.
Well, seeing as Earth has no clear-cut system of deciding whose balls fit into those pants, the aliens have a short conference to discuss which of the available 7billion humans should wield the title of World Leader. Political leaders, elected or otherwise, are out of the question, because (i) they rarely influence anybody, (ii) they all have serious opposition, and (iii) even where the opposition is minimal, they are only tolerated (cue: at this point, the conference presentation zooms in on Nigeria).
To save billable hours, one of the aliens suggests Twitter as a criteria for deciding world leaders. You have followers, the followers come voluntarily, can leave anytime and are actually influenced by the thoughts of the followed person. That’s Twitter 101, and if the concept of Twitter still doesn’t make sense to you, then maybe you should just close this page and go back to your good old prints.
Back to Twitter. So who is the World Leader according to the blue bird? Ladies and Gentlemen, the Undisputed President of the World is still Lady Gaga–who is followed by approximately 26,602,690 people worldwide. Think of that number for a moment–that’s more individuals than most people will ever share a city with. A formidable standing army that can trample you for dissenting with their views.
Coming closely after Lady I-Pretend-I-Don’t-Give-A-Fuck is Justin Bieber, the Twitter proclaimed Vice President of the World with a sobering 24,407,091 followers. Its hard to imagine that there are about 24million teenage girls out there who adore Bieber.
And where’s Barack Obama? Ranking 6th position behind Katy Perry, Rihanna and Britney Spears. And, as if to make up for this lapse of judgment, Obama’s ranking is quickly followed by Shakira, Taylor Swift, and Kim Kardashian (groan).
Our hypothetical aliens now have their world leaders and we can leave them alone for now. Democracy wins again. Lady Gaga rules the world and Justin Bieber is the heir apparent. If Twitter is any reflection of the trends in the real world, then there are a lot of dumb-as-shit people out there–and that’s not just because of their choice of music, but because they take that choice forward by indirectly electing these two musicians as the representatives of Earth’s mental direction. Entertainment is one thing, motivation is another. On the bright side, its hilarious that for inspiration, the world looks up to a girl-woman who craves attention and a boy who is yet to learn how to deal with women. Meanwhile, the palace is rife with coup plots as Bieber followers try to unseat Lady Gaga. Its a crazy world.
As for me, in the Twitter scheme of things, I’m a lowly field labourer working without pay.
The old testament is full of killings and genocide. Whole tribes slain, women raped, towns and cities pillaged. From the killing of Abel to the captivity of Israel, it is a continuous story of sin and retribution. And the wages of sin was death. Literal death. No kidding.
One of the stories tells of a bunch of kids dissing Elijah the Prophet. The man summoned a bear to devour the kids. Just think about it and let a shiver run through you. Kids, man! A bear! To eat them? For calling you names? A “prophet” who tosses children at wild animals today will be lynched by angry parents.
But Christians, and many other non-Christians don’t shudder at the bloodletting of the Old Testament. The tragedies and deaths in verses and chapters seem far too remote for them to worry about the details. Instead they pick up the moral lesson to be learnt and continue to the next story. But the death of Jesus is the theme of almost 27 books. A situation best explained by the the words attributed to Stalin: “One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is just a statistic.”
This is not just a Christian predilection. Its all too human. We ignore large numbers and focus on the smaller ones. However the death of one man is as tragic as the other–and you shouldn’t fault him for dying with company. The Rwandan Genocide, the Jewish Holocaust, 9/11, Biafran Civil War–we bunch up all sorts of individual deaths in one mouthable phrase. But we go haywire over a singular event: Anita Smith, age 24, a banker, single, was murdered.
And that is why I refuse to mourn individual tragedies any more than I mourn collective ones. I am sober about the death of a single person, but life goes on for me within the hour. The statistical death is as tragic as the single one. The fact that I know someone’s name does not make his death more important than the one whose name I do not know. The death of the people of biblical Sodom and Gomorrah is as sad as that of Michael Jackson. And when I read of those two events, I read them with thoughtfulness–not indifference for one and sorrow for the other. Statistics are tragic too, and the tragic is also statistical.