Saturday, August 26, 2006

Read and run

Urban life in the fast lane is soon becoming life in the electronic lane and is creating its own activities and afflictions, as these neologisms prove.

When online users assume that any information from the Internet is automatically true, they suffer from the ‘Peter Salinger Syndrome’. It gets its name from the embarrassment faced by journalist Peter Salinger in 1996: ‘Veteran American newsman Peter Salinger said today he has a government document saying that Navy gunners accidentally shot down TWA Flight 800 while conducting missile tests, killing all 230 people aboard . . . Salinger said the document was dated August 22 and was posted on the Internet at the beginning of September,’ Jocelyn Noveck, Paper On ‘Test’ Offered To FBI (AP), November 8, 1996. Obviously, the document that Salinger possessed was a hoax but the episode became a warning to all gullible netizens and came to be immortalised through the coinage.

Pod casts and blogs are now commonplace and the latest activity is ‘god casting’. ‘God cast’ is the creation of Craig Patchett, founder of the ‘God cast network’ that began on October 31, 2004. ‘God casting’ initially took off through the churches that used video and iPod technology to create virtual sermons that ranged from amateur to Emmy-award quality. Then, these were delivered anywhere, at the convenience of the worshippers gathered together. The first citation for ‘god cast’ acknowledges that technology and religion may not form a very effective combination: ‘Sydney’s St Barnabas Anglican Church is making the sermons for the last three years available for download as MP3 files, according to The only problem is, God doesn’t have the best bandwidth, and the server seems to be unavailable’, Godcasting (Gadget Lounge), October 29, 2004. Indian TV has also taken to god casting in a big way.

When dependence on electronic living is complete, physical activity takes a backseat and poor fitness becomes a cause of concern. Doctors have created a fresh label for such victims, a label that speaks for itself: ‘sedentary death syndrome’. This refers to death caused by extreme inactivity and poor nutrition. So, fold up the newspaper and start jogging.