Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The Argumentative Indian, in the times of Social Media

(It isn't about the book. I haven't read it. I am sorry to those who were chaperoned here by Google for the book)

Indians love to argue. Whether we are young or old, happy or sad, illiterate or educated, we all love to argue and we have seen people arguing all our life. Occasionally some of us grow up to become pacifiers, mostly because at some point it can get boring or pointless and somebody would like it stopped. But most of us don't. We end up arguing all the time and loving it. It is admirable that in a country with many different hues, arguments are encouraged and stand as proof for the freedom of speech.

Most arguments are healthy. Because we all love it so much we need to have one once in a while and it's not too often that they lead to any repercussions. And well some are not. But even a healthy argument can go sour if it lasts too long in our heads. Media in the recent past, has become very 'responsible' and it tries to tell you everything that has happened. Often blamed to pull things out of context or to try and bring an argument out for no apparent reason or to dig up an old and obsolete argument to point out the difference. At times it may be of use. But at times, ummm...

Well, people change and so do opinions. A few months ago I liked one politician and today I don't. I am not being irrational. That is why we have elections again and again. Similarly, you may approve certain characteristics at one point of time and discourage at another time. As we grow we change, as our country grows its people change. And arguments are supposed to be for the moment.

Now that media is being a good citizen, so is the new media, the social media. Social media is such a good citizen that it pulls out everything you ever said and keeps sharing it and forwarding it even after you are dead. Social media is so righteous that it believes by being judgemental it is serving the global community. The written word is there forever. In a completely new argument someone can point to something you've said in another discussion because it is all recorded in the comments on someone else's facebook wall. Never mind that it was before you started working and living by yourself or before you had a baby or before you experienced a personal loss. It doesn't matter. For the social media, you have lost all credibility because you have changed your perspective, even if it was ever so slightly. You are simply not allowed to change.

Being an argumentative Indian is tough in today's world. I have stayed away from any social media arguments after an incident where I pointed out that a certain argument lacked basic logic for which I was told to stop torturing and harassing. So I stopped arguing. An argument came looking for me once and it got me nowhere, you know one of those where someone may be right but refuses to even hear you out? So I gave up and decided to no longer opine on anything other than books and may be movies (even that is a dangerous subject at times). No wonder my blog is so bare lately.

Unfortunately, I am argumentative. And it was truly frustrating that being such a social person (like in social media, not sure if I am truly social) I could not voice out my opinions on my own facebook wall for the fear of the wrath of 'responsible social media' and I would have no energy left to tackle all the comments. It's like arguing with a few hundred people at once. So I started arguing in my real social circles, the people I meet with. Now I argue far lesser than I used to. So automatically, I win far fewer times too. And obviously everyone who loves arguments loves to win. I am not saying I will not lose but I would like a win once in a while, well once every little while. So it wasn't great any more.

I was supposed to be good at arguments. I won some and I lost some and it wasn't about winning or losing but about logic and reason and differences in perspective. It was perfectly fine to agree to disagree. But as the number of my arguments grew fewer it was harder for me to lose and not suddenly but slowly I turned into an argumentative Indian who doesn't really care about the argument. I need not win, I cannot accept defeat. That's the worst kind of people you ever want to argue with. Damn you, social media! Look what you've done!

PS: Sorry for the lack of pics. When I typed varying combinations of "Indian" and "argue", I was expecting a bunch of women fighting at the water pump, which would have suited me perfectly. But all I got was Harbhajan Singh with umpires!