It is surprising and annoying to note how people want others to feel guilty!! WhatsApp plays a major role in this process because of its easy access. Though I mute most of the chats in WhatsApp, some messages escape into the eyes sometimes!
There are plenty of messages to make one feel bad about not using the old techniques and tools! These messages come with an emotional overload and apt pathos background music! Sure, riding a bicycle was fun. It is a healthier and more eco friendly option than driving a car is a valid argument. But when someone says that we are the last generation to have taken a triples ride in a bicycle and we are the last ones to check the if dynamo works fine, it makes me wonder so what? When I hear the soft idlies of yester-years, it makes me think, just because your mother used "aatu ural" & made tasty idlies, it does not mean that idly made out of batter from a grinder is tasteless or less soft! If you are getting less soft, less tasty idlies, it could just mean that you are not good at mixing the ingredients in right ratio! Or it could also mean that when you were young, you were not exposed to other food to compare it with her cooking!
"We were happier earlier" seems to be the crux of these messages!! We are the first generation who could video chat with someone in the other side of the planet and appreciate their saree color! We are the first generation to have sent a mail to someone on the other side of the planet and could feel frustrated if it is not delivered within the next second! Our parents sent a letter and just had to 'assume' that the letter would have been delivered a week or a fortnight later! Why should we not be happy about these things? Sure, most of us were happier as children. But that is because our parents took the brunt of day to day operations!! And more importantly, we were not thinking of past or future, as children; we could be in present all the time! We see that in today's children too!
Even worse are the "guilt" messages - we are not spending enough time for our nears & dears, not taking care of our health, peace of mind etc. etc.! "IT professionals, you are not sleeping enough, you are stressed too much because of uncertainty!" is a famous cry. What I don’t understand is, can anyone face more uncertainty or be more stressed than a farmer who does not know when it will rain! Just a couple of days delay in rains can ruin one whole year of harvest! Can anyone's life be more stressful? Are the IT professionals the only ones whose sleep pattern is bizarre? How about doctors, nurses, drivers, policemen? How about those traders of 8th or 9th century? Did they get to sleep at regular times?
Why are we over working, who are we running for - to pay the builders and interior designers etc. are the questions raised again and again with an indication that it is a bliss to be idle! Really? If everyone is idle, who would feed us? Where will the money come from? Okay, money is "manmade" sinful entity and we don’t need that for a living! Where will the food come from? Where will clothes come from? Someone has to cultivate, process and deliver the produce. Who is that someone? Shouldn’t they stop "running" as well?
Messages targeted at women are beyond count! "Oh, lady software engineer, do you know when your baby first said amma, do you know mother's milk is the best food in the world, do you know this, do you know that… " are quite frequent! Do we mean to say, a lady farmer had better luxury a few decades ago? She had to leave her child too! She too did not know when her baby said amma first! Sure, she did not leave her child in a child care! But she would have left the child under a tree with almost no one to attend to! She would have been worried about snakes at least ants and other insects! The IT mothers are worried if the day-care people are really giving the care!! Which is safer? Which is less cruel to the mother? Who can say? Didn’t they both try to strike a balance between two conflicting needs?
We are not able to take care of our parents is the next accusation! Sure, the life style has changed and our jobs make us stay in faraway places. In olden days, people continued the same profession as their parents, stayed in the same village or town, had opportunity to be with parents & grandparents mostly. They married cousins from the same village or neighbouring villages. So they could stay closer to the relatives. This does not necessarily mean that they took care of their parents or elders any better than what we do! Just because our forefathers were living closer to their parents, it does not mean that they had a cordial relationship! If that was the case, we would not have had stories like "mother's heart (a heart asking the son to walk carefully)"!! We also had grannies who sold puttu for survival and could call only Lord Shiva to carry soil on her behalf!! We have stories that exemplify the care given to parents - like "shravana kumaran" and the butcher who taught karma yoga to Rishi Konganava! If everyone took care of their parents so well, why were such stories written?
Another interesting factor about these messages is their dreaminess! They make us sit down with our eyes closed, recollecting the past! The dream generally starts with a smile and then slowly it gets into an ache!! The art of creating emotions thru writing!! That way, I am impressed with the message writers to take one to a specific period in time and a specific emotion / dreaminess!! But, a dream should motivate you to move forward. Considering the past as the best period of life makes you dream for something that you can not achieve! Learning from the past is fine and it is needed! Using the best practices of the past, strengthening them further to support the future is a much needed skill for human beings to survive! But what is the point in just feeling bad, that too with distorted truth!!!
I want to meet those writers of the long sentimental messages and ask, "are you really fair?"!! Is it technology's fault? Really? How do you know? What is your reference point? Unfortunately, it is not only these faceless 'sentimental' writers who try to make us feel self-pity or guilty! This habit seems to catch up with many 'real' people as well! I was fortunate (or unfortunate?!?!?!) to observe and escape one such effort today! This person spoke to me for just a few minutes!! It was just a courtesy call! But within the short 3-4 minutes, there were some two hundred questions with comments- how am I doing, how is my family doing and work progressing, when & where am I travelling next (wow you get to see places, but India is heaven), who will feed my husband (hmm.. poor man), will my cook buy vegetables on her own even when I am not there (dont trust these people, they are all cheats), what time I usually come home (so sad, that is too late by any standards…hmmm I pity you guys), have I eaten my dinner (OMG, it is 10 pm, it is not a good practice to have dinner so late!!), is dinner ready or should I cook only now, will I have my dinner alone (this is absolutely wrong!! it is a very bad practice to have food all alone), did I oil my hair and wash it in the morning (women must do so every Friday for the family's well-being!!), so on and so forth!!
Finally, I had to say I am getting into a meeting - just to end the call! The caller ended the call 'gracefully' stating that this situation too will pass, I should not worry about this and I will be happy someday! I was wondering why does the caller think that there is something wrong with my life!! When I understood the motives behind the statements, I could not stop smiling for about 10 minutes, though the call itself was very tiring! I am sure the caller did the same thing - for a different reason though!! Interestingly, the caller is the most kind person when it comes to feeding a hungry person but is the most cruel when it comes to playing with other's emotions!! I was smiling, thinking about the attempt to make me feel guilty, self-pity and look for a shoulder to cry! I am wondering if people like these trigger the 'senti' messages by these faceless writers or these messages trigger behaviours in people like the caller! What will be their reaction if they know that people like me are just smiling at their messages as against their expectations to make people cry!
A better question probably is how can we learn to be motivators? I believe life is all about giving confidence - to self and others! Radiating confidence & making people hopeful and motivated is sign of a matured person! It could be thru words, deeds or by just our presence! As we know, shaking someone's confidence and peace is easy! It is the role of cruel people! Not affecting the confidence is the bare minimum human value! Building confidence is greatness! Only peerless and fearless leaders can do that! How do we cultivate and nurture the greatness in ourselves? How do we create more leaders?