I like receiving notifications from News apps. This way, I can pretend I know exactly what is happening in the world. Thanks to these timely alerts, I know that Meghan Markle is no longer as loved as she used to be, because too many have taken on her brand of self - pity politics, grievance – hawking and aggressive self – marketing to ensure that her success exceeds her meagre talents and made it their own. I have also been made aware, despite repeated hints that ‘news’ of this nature does not really rock my boat that Vijay Varma and Tamannaah Bhatia are dating post their ill – advised forays in Lust Story 2. Cricket lovers are gung-ho about whatever is happening at the Ashes series. While I myself have no idea about what constitutes the difference between white, red and blue balls, (although I think Kookaburras, a bird that may or may not be mythical is involved), I do know that Virat Kohli thinks that Ben Stokes is the most competitive bloke he has played against. I have also been informed, that political players across the world continue to generate all kinds of drama. But I’ll be damned if I know exactly what that is all about.
One such notification, informed me that a Jo Lindner - Bodybuilder and influencer had died at 30, from a sudden aneurysm. His many fans have compared him to Arnold Schwarzenegger while his critics hated on him, insisting that he was a steroid user. Jo himself had admitted as much in a candid YouTube video.
In a sea of negative news cycles, which reiterate our secret fear that we are all doomed, something like the passing of a good – looking, gym – ripped hunk of youth is deemed newsworthy because the tragedy is strangely comforting to a great majority who can’t be influenced into working out and eating right, just so they can get skinny, post pics of themselves sipping green smoothies and flaunting washboard abs to gain a devoted fanbase on Instagram. Most of us would rather tsk at Jo’s untimely demise because it is reinforcement of our preferred belief that the societal standard of physical beauty is hardly ideal and certainly does not mean that the fit and fabulous are healthier than their chubby counterparts even if the latter may be committed couch potatoes with a partiality for the guilty pleasures of Nutella and Lotus Biscoff.
Let’s face it. The benefits are many for those who wake up at 5 am, meditate, practise hot yoga and intermittent fasting, derive satisfaction from small pleasures, embrace positivity and appreciate sunsets and the many phases of the moon. But it might not be the worst thing in the world to work out by reading a hefty book, eating ice cream and making peace with your choices even if they are perceived to be imperfect. Who knows it might just prolong your life. Or cut it short. But it might not matter, just as long as you are happy and comfortable in your own skin. And avoid the news in favour of discerning, topical columns written by yours truly.
An edited version of this piece was published in The New Indian Express.