“The absurdity of the whole process made me feel selfish….” Priyanka Chauhan’s short story delves into the fads of the social media.
I decided to enrol my four-month-old son to the cute baby contest scheduled for this month. Initial feelings with which I filled the registration form on parenting website were of pride, elation, excitement, competitive fever, social approval and recording a milestone for future.
This was to be the first form I ever filled for my child. Sure, mandatory it was for the competition! My eyes started twinkling thinking of trophy. I would flaunt it in front of my family and friends after winning, I thought as I keyed in the details.
Firstly, instructions were not clear on the website about the procedure, contest and the voting link. Somehow, I filled in the details. Then, there was no confirmation of the submitted form.
Neither there was ‘Contact Us’ tab on the website, I kept wondering whether my son was registered for the contest or not for the next two days. Finally, a notification did appear from the organisers saying that my baby is ready to cut the chase.
“Who will be the cutest baby for the period of August 31- Sept 02,” it read. I reenergised myself as if saying with a whistle ‘on a mark, get set and go’ to my little one?
The deciding factor for winning the competition was to be voting.
“I mean, seriously! Voting,” I told myself.
How can voting, that too, by ‘Facebook friends’ decide the cute quotient of my baby. Nonetheless, in order to realise my dream (with I had seen with wide-eyes open during the form submission), I logged in. I was online almost after a year of dormancy to garner support from my social buddies.
I posted a vote declamation on my FB wall to people whose ‘updates’ I never really ‘liked’ or ‘read’. The absurdity of the whole process made me feel selfish. Nevertheless, I kept begging for votes from people with whom I have had zero interaction in the last one year.
As if begging and pleading was not enough, I started explaining the process to ‘my potential voters’: how to follow the voting link and cast their vote, troubleshoot and guide them through technical errors, reconfirming from those who assured they had, reminding those who hadn’t, and fuming over those who were as reactive as a log of wood.
Almost half the day was over in chasing the mission, I glanced at my baby who was being nursed by my mother. As I gulped down my food, a little plug-in point came to my notice. It was given just below the comment box on the contest website and read ‘share the link on WhatsApp’. I pressed and what happened after that can be described only with one word- Harakiri.
The same procedure of FB got repeated on WhatsApp with more questions and even more troubleshooting issues followed by resolutions doled out by me.
My school mate Gunjan who had entered her month old daughter in the same contest a month back replied to my WhatsApp text saying, “It is the most worthless contest ever. It discourages parents and dusts off their sentiments attached with the baby.” This was the only thing left for me to hear, I sulked.
“My daughter received 600 likes on Fb as I requested all in our circles, however, the one with 1000 likes was declared a winner,” she voiced her angst.
I crashed, cringed and crucified myself!
I was exasperated by the evening and cursed myself for having done something as messy as this.
Besides, I overlooked what my son would have felt, had I sought his opinion pertaining to this voting fiasco. Asking the world to vote on his cute face seemed derogatory now. I felt guilty!
Had he been a grown up boy today, he would have said: “Mom, I do not wish to be voted as the cutest baby by the social media.”
“I have a vote which matters the most – yours. I am the cutest baby for you, by you, of you, Ma.”
A pop-up with a clinking sound hits my mailbox announcing, “Your son Voting Report is only at 33. Ask your friends and family on Facebook to vote.”
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