Have Internet, Will NOT Give Opinion: Can We Stop Over-Analysing The Sweet Surf Excel Ad?

Have Internet, Will NOT Give Opinion: Can We Stop Over-Analysing The Sweet Surf Excel Ad?

It's a brand new day, and keyboard warriors have found something new to twist and blow out of proportion.

Over the last few days, you would have heard about the surf excel advert and the 'controversy' surrounding it. The ad has been dubbed 'hinduphobic', 'insensitive' and even 'anti-national' and a hashtag calling to boycott the brand has been trending on Twitter. In a misplaced attempt to 'boycott' the brand, some angry netizens even left bad ratings...for the Microsoft Excel app.

Our country's quite notorious when it comes to mob-fuelled outrage. With easy access to social media, everyone now has an opinion on everything, and they feel extremely compelled to share it, too. While the privilege to have access to information is truly a blessing, social media has also become a breeding ground for bullying, hatred and fake news. So when Surf Excel released its new Holi-themed ad, all it took was a handful of people posting their angry opinions online before it snowballed into a full-blown 'trending' controversy. 

I admit I noticed the social media fury before I even saw the ad itself, and decided to watch the clip to see what the fuss was about. I had to re-watch it twice to realise that all the 'outrage' was much ado about nothing. Not only was the clip NOT outrageous, it was actually heart-warming!

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In the one-minute clip that has over 9.8 million views on youtube, a young girl on a bicycle is seen challenging the other kids in her locality to douse her in colours till they end up exhausting their stock. Turns out she was protecting her friend who was clad in a white kurta-pajama and a skull cap, and proceeded to safely escort him to the masjid to offer his namaaz. As she dropped him off, she said "Baad mein rang padega," reminding him that he won't be excluded from the celebrations after all.

The video left me smiling, and I wondered if everybody else would have felt the same had they not watched it with the agenda of finding offence? The real problem is that people see religion before they see the person. The girl in the ad just sees a boy who needs to stay 'daag-free' for a little while. After that, she looks forward to celebrating the festival with him. If anything, the ad encourages sensitivity and inclusivity. Can we, for one second, not leap to conclusions and see the real intention of the message—which is about innocence, friendship and communal harmony?

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