Social media a waste of time: Vikram Seth - GulfToday

Social media a waste of time: Vikram Seth


Vikram Seth signs an autograph chart for schoolgirls in Sharjah.

Almost an hour before the celebrated Indian poet and author Vikram Seth arrives at the auditorium at the Sharjah International Book Fair 2019 where he is to speak to school students, the hall is full. Only standing space is available and there are still two more busloads of children to be accommodated. By the time he arrives – to a superstar welcome – there is not even manoeuvring space left. The buzz in the hall is stronger than a beehive that’s been stirred with a stick, and the writer senses the mood as he walks in. He immediately takes charge of the situation like a pro.

“Guys, I know you have been brought here by our schools, but let us make the best of it, so tone down the buzz,” he begins. The children quieten down immediately.

Keeping the young audience in mind, the moderator asks Seth, author of 15 books which include poetry, fiction, non-fiction and anthologies, for his opinion of social media. Seth, who apparently has only 2,641 followers on Twitter, says: “I have not been on Twitter since 2011, when a friend perforce created an account for me. Likewise, on Facebook. And when my WhatsApp account got hacked, that was the end of that! I am not sitting in judgement, but for me social media is a total waste of time.” He explains: “I am very lazy by nature and get easily distracted. So, I play Candy Crush instead. I am prouder of the fact that I got to level 15 without buying anything than anything else I have done. In fact, if Candy Crush had not happened, I would have completed my next book by now!” After that statement, Seth owns the auditorium. The children want to know if his success at the beginning of his career proved to be a burden for him. “Do you mean to ask if there was pressure on me as a writer? No, not at all. When I write, I write. I don’t think of how people would perceive it, or critics would critique it,” he says. “What is the worst that can happen? It might fail. So be it. What matters is whether you are true to yourself and your writing.”

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