My first display picture (DP) years back on social media was of a zebra. As one familiar with only SMS texting, getting on WhatsApp with a DP was a leap forward. When asked for my picture on the phone, there was none. Left only with the option of choosing an image from the preloaded pictures on the phone — on an impulse, I chose the quizzical, pin-striped quadruped over all other creatures.
I transformed from a zebra to a dapper architect in no time by dipping into the family album and pulling out a younger self!
But a cool DP is like a powerful digital deity that must be propitiated every now and then with constant offerings of different poses, locations, moods and hues of endless variations. It’s an extension of your virtual personality, and your popularity ratings depend more on that tiny blip than on your 100-page CV.
To surreptitiously dip into your peer group’s DPs can provide juicy, peeping Tom tickle! You can easily identify the personality types from their digital pugmarks.
On my WhatsApp group, there is a species that does not demit its ‘high office’ even after a millennium has elapsed since retirement. The stiff DPs of such sahebs show them usually attired in crusty formal suits or black bandh-galas, ensconced on their throne-like chairs, with a tagline sternly reminding everyone that the worthy is ‘busy’ or available for ‘urgent calls only’.
Then there are the resident spiritualists, mystics, healers and self-appointed moral gurus who usually choose a serene lotus emerging from the muddy waters of life, embellished with a hymn or a homily on doing good in life every morning. There are the pessimists, too, who wear a mask even on their DPs and incessantly remind you that ‘we’re all waiters of the call by the Almighty’ and ‘each day is a bonus’ — making the mortality clock tick more loudly! They’re also messengers of the latest WHO guidelines on pandemic protocols or tips on longevity, herbal therapies and health benefits of imbibing bitter gourd juice first thing in the morning.
But the most enchanting are the young-at-heart oldies playing out zestfully the ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ lifestyles, even in their 60s and 70s. They pose enviously on their Harley Davidsons at Zoji La or having a candlelight dinner of crabs with wine on a Goan beach, while the fearfuls like us are sitting out the pandemic playing Monopoly or Ludo with grandchildren at home.
The newly minted grandparents are, of course, the ones who go completely cuckoo. Their DPs are invariably of the little bundle of joy gurgling bubbles after the morning feed, as the tagline proclaims ecstatically, ‘Lil’ Twinkle burps her breakfast.’
And this reminds me that I have not changed my DP ever since it was invented. No one is obviously calling me to the Oprah show!
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