Trend – a very popular and much loved word of this era, refers to a general direction in which something is developing or changing. Much of what we do nowadays more or less springs up from some kind of a trend that is going on. The word has exceptionally captured the minds of our young generation who never mind detaching themselves from ethical paleoconservatism and prefer to shift to ultraconservatism in observation of trends. From clothing to adoption of hobbies to choosing of professions, trends have been playing their part in our society. Over the years, the idea of following trends have attained such a stronghold in our lives that our talents and abilities have all boiled down to zero in an attempt to religiously follow what is 'in'.
There is a strong nexus between modern trends and social media and a very interesting and integral part of the big tech social media is its use for promotion. While promoting healthy ideas and exemplary impressions is way too a thing of the past, social media promotion nowadays aims more at promoting things which cater to the narcissism of our jazzy generation. Though social media is quite well versed with giving shockers of various kinds, some yet digestible, others are taken with a pinch of salt. Of course, the aforementioned promotions fall within the ambit of the second category.
Finally we are in that era where budding writers are jumping in abundantly into the mainstream to showcase their talents. The characteristic feature of this new generation of writers is their 'tender teenage'. Hailing from different districts of Jammu & Kashmir, these jazzy kids are writing poetry as well as novels about issues practically undecipherable at their age. If not this, their various attempts at poetry only reveal their understanding of poetry as a composite of rhyming words. Then comes the promotion part. For a pittance, you are all over social media for everyone to see. What a feat!
As a layman, one might get amused to see these kids striking jaunty poses in their social media pictures as if having attained the heights, but as a reader, a writer and a critic, you can't just take everything that is presented to you in a platter. You dig to find out whether the chest is full of treasure or full of mud. Having felt the same, I tried to procure the works of some of these writers who were quite everywhere on the social media, just to get my apprehensions right. Speechless is something else, I was dumbfounded! A strange feeling overcame me. It was a kind of nonplussed bemusement. I wondered who on earth is publishing these young lads and lasses! Is there no screening? No proper editing? No peer review? No proof reading? Don't the publishing houses care for the level of mediocrity of these works? Alack! But the jazzy authors every inch lack the heart of a writer and those publishing them lack the nerve to critically analyse what to pass and what to hold back. I had heard somewhere that self publishing is akin to self destruction. Seeing it getting real is all the more scary. Perhaps the self publishing houses do not even care about the inadequacy of the content or the paucity of writing skills by those contributing the content. Perhaps self publication is all about 'pay and publish' in order for desperate people to trend for a few days on social media. Perhaps quality has been left far behind by those writing mediocre content and those publishing them in exchange of a hefty sum and those promoting them for a few bucks.
My analysis might sound to some like an unfair stereotype. But, my evaluation is not from the perspective of a writer but from that of a potential reader. A potential reader craves for quality, for standards that have been set by great writers over the time. A writer may flout traditional standards to set new ones in their place but one cannot flout quality – of content, of context, of style, of language. And alas! all these parameters are neglected and disregarded by our budding generation of so-called writers who write 'to trend'. These are not writers but schlocky souvenirs of genuine writers.
This reminds me of one of my favourite poems The Touch Of The Master's Hand, written by American poet Myra Brooks Welch. The poem centres around an old violin languishing as the last item to be sold in an auction for a meagre sum of money. Surprisingly, a violinist from among the audience steps out on the stage to play the battered violin only to demonstrate the true value and the beauty hidden beneath the ravaged body of the violin, which then sells for a large amount of money as per its worth.
No matter how hard a person, who does not know how to play a violin tries to play it for fun, one cannot play it with the utmost mastery of pattern, of musicality, of continuity. We are all born with our individual talents and skills. These are possessed, not purchased. Rather than following others blindly, we must dig and examine our beings to unveil our specialities and pursue them thereof. It is up to us – 'self-realisation' or 'self-destruction'!
So if you seek, seek your self!
Go against the grain,
For there is no disdain,
In owning what you are.
But if you go, with the flow,
You shall be a doe, trying to fly!
String the wings of vigour to heart,
Hear the sounds of delectation.
Unique is Priceless!