Where does crushing stop and stalking begin?

The Indian online crowd takes a fancy to a pretty face it has spotted fleetingly, and then there’s a mad carnival. Privacy becomes the first casualty.

There are people who become famous because of their talent or skill, and then there are others who become celebrities by just being there! Caveats apply—they have to be female and pretty!

From winking sensation Priya Prakash Varrier to ‘the woman in the yellow sari’, Metrolife brings to you a list of those who became social media stars because men liked what they saw.

Yogeshwari Gohite

Yogeshwari Gohite

The ‘Blue dress polling official’ (we are rolling our eyes here) is how people searched for her on Google after a picture of hers went viral this voting season.

Gohite, who is with Canara Bank, was deputed as polling officer 1 at the ITI polling station in Govindpura in Bhopal. She was surprised by the attention generated by the picture and the aftermath — media crews traced her address, friend requests and following spiked, and strangers started asking for selfies.

Saima Hussain Mir

As if being in a selfie with Shahrukh Khan was not enough luck, this Kashmiri girl woke up to hundreds of calls and messages the day after the picture hit the Net. In subsequent days, she had to turn off the Internet on her phone as the constant flood of notifications from social media platforms overwhelmed her.

Articles were written about her, and she got thousands of friend requests from as far away as Argentina, Malaysia and Mexico. Her social media feed later turned into a battleground for an India vs Pakistan debate.

Deepika Ghose

Deepika Ghose

You would know her better as the RCB girl (even her Instagram bio describes her that way). In the latest IPL season, the camera paused on her temporarily during an RCB match and the Internet crashed.

So happy were people with their latest eye candy that they lauded the cameraman for his exceptional people-spotting skills.

She later took to Instagram to point out how her life changed afterwards. From cheap and obscene comments from men to hate mail from women, she had to face it all.

This is a snippet from her Insta post: ‘While I am grateful for the love, I am disturbed by the unnecessary negativity. It has been an extreme case of abuse, trauma and mental torture. I am confused as to how people found my name/profile.

My identity, privacy & life have been hacked in an instant. A lot of the overnight followers are men who have used this platform to be crude, vulgar, vicious and entirely disrespectful.’

Priya Prakash Varrier 

Priya Prakash Varrier 

With a wink, she floored her classmate in a movie and the rest of India in real life. It gained her three million followers on Instagram in just one weekend, and the status of most-googled celebrity in India in 2018. However, her eyebrow prowess couldn’t compensate for her lack of acting skill. Her performance in the Malayalam movie ‘Oru Adaar Love’ unleashed a barrage of criticism.

Later, actress Noorin Shereef, who played the female lead in the school romance drama, complained Priya had sidelined her. Even the director of the movie, Omar Lulu, was unhappy he had to give prominence to Priya because of her newfound popularity.

Reena Dwiwedi

Reena Dwiwedi

She is known as the ‘woman in the yellow sari’. The PWD officer was clicked by a colleague while she was on election duty, carrying electronic voting machines to the polling station. The colleague then posted the picture online (umm...say what?) and it went viral within no time.

She is enjoying her moment in the sun; she is getting offers for Bhojpuri movies, and is also keen to participate in the next season of reality show ‘Bigg Boss’. True, cash in on your popularity before the Internet finds its next crush.

On a more serious note...

The girls and the women didn’t ask for flash fame and they are happy with the attention. But that should not stop us from looking this online Indian practice straight in the eye and giving it its correct name: stalking.

There is a magic chant in the new-age world and it goes ‘Internet, do your thing’; people use this jokingly when they want the digital populace to turn into Sherlock Holmes and help them find out more about the girl whose pictures have gone viral.

It basically translates to ‘I find this girl pretty and I need to know every little detail about her’. Saying things like ‘the Internet has found its latest crush’ obfuscates the fact that there are thousands of men putting up pictures of the girl on websites, sharing her address and contact details on social media, and even putting out intimate facts like age, height, weight and eye colour.

Whatever happened to privacy? Since when did we become so okay with tracking down identities of people we don’t know, and then publicising them? Remember if we normalise this sort of collective stalking, we are opening the floodgates to problematic behaviour in the future — something for which we have been bashing Bollywood for decades now.

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