A game with this name became very popular when it was launched a couple years ago, the plot being exponential destruction of the opponent’s items till one completely occupies the grid. ‘Exponential’ , was what made this game special. And especially in today’s scenario, exponential blowing out of proportion of everything otherwise ordinary is anything but abnormal.

Just recently, a youth was taken into custody for spreading fear in the minds of parents going into oral polio vaccine booths with their newborns by spreading rumours of infant deaths related to improperly inactivated vaccination. Not long ago, India was taken by storm when a person was killed by a mob on the streets of Uttar Pradesh, based on the mere suspicion that he was in possession of beef, in the light of the much talked about recently passed ban on beef. Though completely unrelated, these two issues do have one aspect in common. Hearsay.

Hearsay governs our opinions to such a large extent today that it is safe to say that it has grown enough to be labeled hazardous now. Gossiping, once every homemaker’s favorite passtime , is fast intruding into matters of great concern, jumping the limits of just being a pass time. What comes from one person as ‘ A pricked B with a needle’ reaches the end of the spectrum as ‘A killed B by launching a rocket at him, lynching him and then burying him and building a city around his grave.’ The funniest part? We do believe every single word of it.

Rumours and hearsay make up a major chunk of the reason why people take dangerous and unpredictable steps, from suicide to murder. With a hundred people voicing their thousand different opinions on topics covering a wide pitch, our interpretation of what someone is trying to convey goes absurdly wrong, most of the times a complete U turn. The information then propagates the way the listener interprets it. Every stage that this information passes through, it is subjected to such spontaneous moulding that in the end, everything except the punctuation has changed.

Look at the irony, shall we? Someone dear to us sometimes gives his everything to try and convince us of his innocence, that he’s speaking the truth. We pay no heed to these pleas whatsoever. On the other hand, any random person screams out random hearsay while walking past our window and we blindly, happily, believe it to be true. That RTI is being flooded with so many applications demanding answers is also an outcome of our blind faith. Believing in whatever someone says and not trying to find out the credentials for ourselves, and then acting upon this newly acquired half true knowledge, we are left feeling cheated, and then eventually looking for real answers and filing RTIs.

Exponential dissemination of knowledge, however authentic at the source, is almost inevitably unreliable by the time it reaches the ultimate recipient, if in any form other than that recorded at the source. Who is a better witness to the hazards of hearsay than us Indians? That we do believe in anything that is thrown our way is what is bringing us here, with social media bleeding swears for every eminent personality with no concrete basis to do so.

There’s been a lot of change in the past years, deleterious and otherwise. This, hearsay, is something that demands immediate looking into too. Until then, sift through your newspaper pages and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

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