This morning when I opened Facebook, my newsfeed was swarmed with people sharing the same monosyllabic status update. They were writing Binod, a male given name popular in Asia, and people in the comment section were leaving Binod in the comments. When I switched to Twitter, Binod was trending at number 3. My curiosity was picking up speed. To my surprise, traversing Instagram and WhatsApp stories of my friends also showed the same trend. I was taken aback. I knew I had to find out the story behind such a peculiar trend.

As I explored the internet further, it turned out that the word Binod came from a comment on a YouTube video. It was made by a guy called Binod Tharu. It was fascinatingly meta in nature as the comment came on a video depicting the behaviour of Indians on the YouTube comment section made by a channel called “Slayy Point”. The moment the guy named Binod commented “Binod” on it, the rest followed; and in no time, it became another Internet trend. According to the news website India.com, police from Uttar Pradesh, Nagpur, and Mumbai started to search for Binod as the Binod meme was even shared by the likes of Twitter accounts of Paytm, Swiggy, and Hotstar.

I think it says a lot about what I would like to call the “Binod culture”. And it defies Science. Unnumbered studies have been conducted by people interested in studying internet trends as to which type of content goes viral more frequently. Recently after the devastating video of a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on a black American man, George Floyd’s neck went viral, the experts agreed that the content that could trigger collective anger is one of such types that are more likely to be shared. It makes sense. Anger is contagious. It is more contagious than COVID-19 as it needs no physical contact between people to spread. However, Binod culture is beyond empirical studies and expert opinions because if we think that way, what emotion does Binod invoke in the Internet community? Before we ask that, we must ask if it should be categorised as the positive content or negative? Moreover, what are its repercussions?

In Binod culture, men whose name is Binod—and it is a real name meaning happiness or joy—will receive unnecessary attention in their daily life. In 2016, when pictures of currency notes with “Sonam Gupta Bewafa Hai” (Sonam Gupta is Disloyal) written on them made rounds on the Internet, women whose name was Sonam had to face a lot of bullying, both online as well as offline. It was so bad that lawyers had to intervene to protect the privacy of women named Sonam. Many Bollywood songs such as “Munni Badnaam Hui” and “Sheela Ki Jawaani” have also created such an unfortunate situation for women. Binod is probably the first man who is vulnerable to it.

Beyond repercussions, there is another side of Binod culture. It is also concomitant with the unprecedented situation that global pandemic has caused. As people are forced to stay inside their home, they are deprived of the stimuli that they were earlier addicted to. With the constant urge to do something and to witness things happening around them–which largely remained unmet during the pandemic–Binod is the way to satisfy that urge. The reason trending Binod makes no practical sense yet it trends underscore how the urge has grown into addiction. I like to call it stimulus morphine.

With that said, I think it is necessary to overcome this addiction as the pandemic has brought unmanageable precarity. It is paramount that we sit back and take a few deep breaths every time we sense that the urgings are rising inside us. It is straightforward: in through the nose and out through the mouth.

Ahmad Khan is a freelance writer, poet, and an IT consultant.


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