Sometimes, when we are away from the family, away from friends and away from everyone who can give a correct version about us, we meet people for whom we become somewhat like aliens. These are the ones who make us feel more ‘special’ than anyone else, because they target us in the most uncomfortable way: they judge people for being themselves. Ah, who knew it would be so difficult to maintain one’s individuality while passing through a phase in life when one is discovering and re-discovering individuality every single day in different forms.

Speaking for myself, I miss libraries. I miss them because I never realised they were my hiding place, my go-to place when I wanted to just be away from crowds for a while. I did not even know I wanted to be away from people for a while, but a solitary place seemed like a refuge. There is a breed in this world that likes (loves) to daydream, to do NOTHING, to waste time (they don’t think it’s a waste of time) just staring at the sky, looking at the birds and listening to their voices. They are mostly recluses. Unfortunately, that breed is judged, and judged so badly that I am sure most of them give in to peer pressure. The world is becoming crazier..there is a peer pressure to drink in order to ‘socialize’ (convenient logic given by people who want to drink and blame others), peer pressure to talk like a non-stop clock, peer pressure to ‘hang out’ (whatever that gets translated into..why would I want to hang out when it is 45 degree celsius outside?), peer pressure to always give an explanation after you have said ‘no’ to an invitation (Is it not enough to tell them that it will not be possible? ‘No’. Moral of the story: People who give explanations make very good reluctant liars). There is another kind of peer pressure: to be ambitious. Sometimes I imagine Bon Jovi’s ‘It’s my life’ in my voice, except that he was really happy singing it, and I would probably sing it like a frustrated Metal-genre singer. People judge people to ‘fix’ people; they notice and applaud materialism instead of minimalism, flamboyance instead of sobriety and simplicity, and loud insecurities instead of quiet confidence.

It makes me sad to see that there’s always a profit-and-loss calculation to actions of most of us. There is a shallowness accompanying most of our gestures, and we are collectively to be blamed for it. Every generation is learning that, and it’s creeping into our lives in the creepiest of ways. Work and work ethic are not worshipped, nor are the bosses, but money is worshipped, sycophancy is worshipped. Love is never given importance, ‘hotness’ is (shallow people forget that it is a personality that is hot..clothes and a body cannot create permanent hotness. If someone as stunning as Aishwarya Rai could second that in Ae Dil Hai Mushkil by saying “Khoobsurati toh dhal jaati hai”, we ought to believe). Democracy has become another name for the release of angst instead of productive discussions. Competitors are ready to slit each other’s throats for something that is partly based on a lot of luck. Photographs are clicked for the number of ‘likes’ and ‘comments’. Pleasure and happiness are rarely distinguished from each other, because people choose to put at stake their happiness for momentary pleasure. A man is judged for having more hair on his body, a woman is judged for having hair on her body. The reason men do not open up to women is because they are often judged for shedding tears or being artistic or composing mushy poems or simply being more caring than some girl. The reason why (most of the) brides of this age spend a fortune on trips to parlours and jewellers is because they feel pressured by the ‘society’ to wear 1kg of makeup and jewellery (even if they had initially gone against the ‘society’ to secure the marriage) or to impress their male-chauvinist boyfriends and husbands (well, they certainly are male-chauvinists if they make their girlfriends and wives so insecure of their natural faces and bodies).The reason people do not have enough to save is because they end up buying useless things in a shopping mall (things they do not need, things that look good but cannot be used, things they will never use), or because they have bad-for-health habits (I wonder how much Iranians save after depriving themselves of alcohol, which is a taboo in that country. In addition, it takes 300litres of water to make 1litre of beer; giving up  or atleast moderating bad-for-health habits can be environment-friendly too.). People do not have time to introspect, but have time to create a long list for some ‘ideal’ person, who does not even exist. They do not have time to listen, but can go on justifying themselves. They do not have time to read letters or messages (and respond to them), but brag about being caring about people and nurturing lives. People who believe in the law of attraction practice it without showing gratitude to anyone or anything, and people who show gratitude attract only indifference in various degrees.

The loss of individuality is a necessary evil when it comes to relationships, but the loss of individuality has become a crisis nowadays, because we do not stop to reflect on the difference between individuality and ego. It is a topsy-turvy world that we do not see. Thankfully the world is round, and some day, there will be light on the other side. Amen.

Let there be light. Let there be love. Let them just be.

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