Celeb casualty in the age of Twitter
It’s a chronicle of an unfortunate death foretold. Sunanda Pushkar’s untimely and shocking demise, barely two days after a social media scandal exposed the chinks in her marital armour, bespeaks the pressure cooker situation created by the information technology revolution, where every little detail is amplified and blown out of proportion. True, social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter, has resulted in a society of irreverence, wherein all the previously sacrosanct institutions and notions have been thrown into the furnace of unwarranted scrutiny and mockery. The 19th century concept of privacy has been pierced and punctured many times over, with not just the state snooping on your every action and reaction, but in fact, courtesy the Internet’s exponential expansion, your private life is up for grabs, reduced to a real-unreal, true-false livestream of pungent entertainment. That Sunanda Pushkar-Shashi Tharoor marriage was both a product and a target of relentless media and social media engagement, that their glamorous, rebellious, fairy tale courtship and wedding were in fact the stuff of the ethereal dream bubble created by a potent concoction of transnational sports market, Delhi’s pretentious and extremely prejudiced political circle as well as the 24X7 media eavesdropping – is hardly a novel observation. But the bizarre length to which the rough and tumble of a high-profile marriage can be driven is exemplified by the hyperreactions of Pushkar and the manner in which it was played up in the news and social media. At the end of the day, the self-serving media universe decided to gobble up one of its errant child and that destruction made still flashier headlines in the aftermath of the tragedy.
There lies the rub. Sunanda Pushkar, who was both made and unmade by media, news and social, is a sad lesson in the amoral excess of the digital dark matter. While a slew of obituaries, some even trying to be reverential of the feisty, strong, independent ‘peroxide blonde’ that Pushkar definitely was, have been pouring in, they have focused on matters that are basically particular to this Kashmiri Pandit from Sopore. Hence, details like Pushkar’s battle against depression, lupus and erythematosus are basically the tip of the iceberg that her life had come to signify, portraying brilliantly the unstable, schizophrenic times we are living in. While on the one hand, Pushkar was a successful entrepreneur and an equal wife, forging her way through the uncharitable Delhi echelons of power and glory, becoming more sought after for her natural charm, intellect and beauty than the handsome union minister Shashi Tharoor, on the other hand, the inevitable loneliness at the top was fast catching up with her, as the pitfalls of fame made themselves severely felt on new and social media. Domestic squabbles don’t remain so in this age of hyperventilation on the digital universe, and every little sigh becomes a horrific scream, mirrored many times in the shards of cyberspace. Pushkar’s death, though not necessarily the logical fallout of this excessively frank and deleterious culture of publicity at any cost, that mode of being always in the public eye and drawing one’s sustenance from the heat and glare of TV cameras and gossip columns, is nevertheless, one of its many unwarranted and unexpected transformations.