Wednesday, November 25, 2020
Editorial

Existential fears & facades

A student aces in all subjects except one ~ she commits suicide. A teenager is refused a smartphone by his parents ~ he commits suicide. Ignoring warnings, the young and not-so-young take selfies and die on dangerous terrain. Unrequited love ends up in suicides and in the violence of acid attacks. The list isn’t exhausted but the mindlessness of self destruction and destruction of others’ lives and limbs have become the normal today ~ as also to lay bare the most intimate details of one’s life on social media, which isn’t confined to any specific age group. Ironically, if not for social media, we wouldn’t have realized how many people are so self-obsessed ~ also not confined to any particular age group ~ which we were taught are the depths of bad manners and questionable up-bringing. This obviously will sound old-fashioned, parochial and conservative and invite a great deal of trolling. And for those who tend to want to be “with it” ~ perhaps unsure of what is right, or wrong, education and upbringing, the main question would be what if our older generations got it all wrong and were taught all wrong. One isn’t sure whether self-obsession and wanting to air it all in public is a passing phase or something that needs psychological and psychiatric assistance because attention deprivation is also said to be the root cause of a lot of the younger generations’ issues. But then, how does one account for attention deprivation of older generations, who have done pretty well for themselves? In fact, so well ~ especially in earning wealth, fame and status ~ which their progenies strongly feel is their right to inherit? How did we get sucked into this thinking that it is the right of children to make demands of their parents? In my generation, we didn’t commit suicide just because our parents didn’t ~ and couldn’t afford ~ a comic, a record or a cassette. Those days, we couldn’t even use the telephone without our parents’ permission. We are constantly reminded that times have change ~ but changed to what? For the better? Or, for an uncertain, insecure, self-centered and egoistical existence? Where did reason, discipline and principles disappear? What has happened to our moral compass? Surely, technology has not been invented to cater to the basest human instincts? Somebody is earning big money out of this but plain and simple reason demands that we do not fall prey to hard sells. Take for instance brands ~ if brands determine self-esteem, which is earning big bucks for somebody else, we need to examine and question our very existence. Do virtues of self-discipline, sacrifice, austerity and selflessness, etc., mean anything at all today? All of us want bigger, better and more today but have any one of them reached us anywhere, which weren’t achieved by older generations? Unfortunately, capitalism, neo-capitalism and post-capitalism dictate and determine our existence and further prevent us from acknowledging and appreciating the value of human life ~ indeed all life forms on earth. Therefore, we remain ignorant about our existential threats. But is our ignorance simply a façade for the act of wishing away our existential threats ~ an act of living a make-believe world? The fact is, our social media posts ~ underscoring our attention-seeking endeavours ~ and our branded apparels and accessories that announce we have arrived, will not wish away our existential perils. Recently one heard of a pathetic account of a person, who had a young teenager from our Eastern areas in his/her employment. Apparently, this young teenager is sent to school ~ as is normally the deal. Now, this young teenager decided to sport a hairstyle in keeping with today’s fashion. The employer asked the teenager to get a decent haircut to which the latter responded with the threat of suicide. It’s funny, on the face of it. But it’s not either. No one needs to live under such threats and actually pay for these threats. Have we all become so helpless that we see no option but to live under the shadow of threats? This is change, modernism and post-modernism? And we think we are so “with it”. Why have we devalued our lives so much? The issue here is why do we allow fear ~ real and imagined ~ dictate and determine our lives? This cannot be development, much less progress. Oh, how we allow ourselves to pushed right back into the cave.

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