What Does the Bali Hotel Incident Tell Us About Public Outrage?
Even as we wish eternal damnation upon Indian tourists, some Indian family out there is perhaps complaining about not knowing that the items in the mini-fridge are chargeable. Others, with wiser instincts, are probably calling up the front desk to check if the hotel toiletries are free. Our scrimp-and-save inclinations have definitely missed the memo on time and place.
The story of the family in Bali, that quite coolly vacuumed their hotel room clean with loopy stealth, has taken the internet by storm.
From hangers to soap-dispensers, nothing was spared. A video of the family – caught red-handed by hotel authorities – was shared widely on the internet and before we could widen our eyes in familiar horror, Indian tourists were branded – by Indians – as barefaced conmen ‘shaming’ the nation.
Of course, the family need not have gone The Great Heist on the hotel goods, but need we have hulked out on them, on social media, revving up a cancel culture that measures no impact?
We’re calling out a befuddling sense of entitlement, sure, but are our methods looking to dictate or teach?
“National shame... ”
“Tourist trash... ”
With volcanic might, we called them out on social media and reduced them to neat little figures of social indignity, not leaving much room for an adjustment in opinion. Adjustment, not by way of our moral compass, but by way of compassion that aims to erase malice.
Yep, their actions reflect poorly on us. But, while ‘we’ do stand the risk of looking like swindlers out to con the world, they have already been branded as irredeemable ‘offenders’ who ought to bear the weight of their indiscretion (quite possibly) all their lives.
Is Fear our protagonist here, and Correction our antagonist? Damn.
We shall forget them soon and move on to the next lot that ‘embarrasses’ us. Will memory soften its blows upon them? Not sure.
This is not to justify the actions of the family but to give the far-too-familiar malaise of our ‘call-out culture’ a deeper thought.
Take, for example, a video circulated online shortly after an Indo-Pak match in June. Sarfaraz Ahmed, with a child hauled up in his arms, is seen hurrying away as a young man, armed with a phone in hand, tries to keep up with the Pakistan cricket team Captain. With blithe disregard, he speaks into the camera impulsively, “Aap su*r jaise mote kyun huye hon? ”
The young boy was served the devil’s axe on a neat platter. He had heedlessly acted on his worst impulse, but, ironically, the counter-heckling that ensued, along with the language used, seemed too familiar to the boy’s follies!
The same goes for a lady in Gurugram who had quite distastefully tried to police a bunch of young women a few months back. The pushback online was nasty, counter-productive, and equally distasteful!
The question is this: Is cancel culture dehumanising us?
Anyway, coming back to the Indian tourist, yes, the Indian tourist is... one of a kind. Yes, more often than not, I have borne witness to the perennial suspicion that the hotel is fleecing them, that hospitality transmutes into corporate deceit raring to extort the last penny out of them.
The thing is, we all seem to have unanimously accepted that the default setting of the Indian tourist is... cringe. But surprisingly, no words are minced while singling out one representative example.