On Stories That Ought To Be Told More Often
The modern technological world needs a philosophical guide to life.
To express the above thought, I will share an anecdote with you. This is an incident that happened a while ago, when I was still in school. It isn’t directly connected to what I talk about right after, but I’m going to try to segue into it & try see if you, the reader, can see things my way & probably get a clue of what I feel/am talking about in a broader perspective.
There is no right age or time to lose a member in the family. I think the loss definitely is a life-changing moment and it brings into perspective things you really care for, give a damn about & work towards living your own lives better. If you look around, you’ll also realize that you’re not alone in it.
That particular bit is easier to grasp as a kid — grieving together, than you ever can as an adult and it probably helped me deal with my mom’s passing in a way that didn’t leave me scarred or shattered. But then again, like I mentioned before, there is no right age or time for a death in the family. This isn’t a story about me, though.
I was sixteen years old. A classmate of mine had lost his younger brother to sudden, severe illness. It was a tragedy, the family left devastated, the entire school shocked. His brother was just 13 years old, lost too soon. He returned to school a week after, clearly in not in a pleasant space of mind. I saw the sadness in him & wanted to reach out, however I could.
All I wanted was to remind him that one is never alone in one’s experiences.
I wrote a letter to him & his family — talking about how loss brings people closer, helps them understand & appreciate each other better. The intent was to let him know that it wasn’t just me or a few individuals, but the entire school was with him through these troubled times. I passed the letter to the classroom & asked everyone to sign on it in solidarity.
The letter found its way to a bunch of cronies who ‘obviously’ knew better. They argued with me that it was unnecessary and would only trigger him emotionally further & cause more trauma. The letter was not needed — the message was clear from those who shielded him as his ‘friends’. Maybe they were right. Maybe they knew better. I immediately felt their glare on the piece of paper in my hands, a look asking me who exactly the fuck was I to intervene.
I was aghast. What was I even thinking?
The guilt was more than I could bear at the time. What started out as an earnest effort at offering some kind of consolation turned into something I felt deeply ashamed of. It was clear what was to be done — the letter had to be disposed. The cronies kept staring, more voices joining them in their expression of distaste.
The letter never reached him. Nor did the story ever find its way to him. But I learnt a lesson that day, a lesson that I find relevant in times like these more than ever.
Even if your efforts are genuine, your intentions honest & sincere, you will never be acknowledged for the same.
Unless you’re endorsed by someone.
This is the endorsement we look out for in our daily lives. This is why we assign value to societal approval. This is the stamped seal of authenticity, the proof that you’re a human worth giving a damn. These are the cronies who determine if you’re a success or a failure. The voices who help you shape your opportunities & fine-tune your destiny. This can be both beneficial or detrimental to your own path, depending on how lucky & smart you are about using it to one’s advantage, but it is a human condition that is indeed most unfortunate.
You will see people who have never as much as said a hello to you in your entire life suddenly come out of nowhere & go out of their way to appreciate/express contempt for anything you say or do at pivotal stages or moments in your life.
Just ask yourself why & you’ll see —
a snowball effect of someone’s opinion or perspective
that picks up within circles of people who hold a similar, shared view. You wished or worried that it was sincere, but more often than not, it is a valuable act of projection.
It is this mass-mentality that people target & predict these days — with predictive text, tailored suggestions & tropes exploiting those basal qualities without leaving room for afterthought, exploration or creativity. It is this mass-mentality that businesses cater to. We have been under intense scrutiny for the last decade.
We have reduced ourselves to an algorithm. Our lives are second hand, because it’s easier to click on ’10 other people shared this’ or ‘people who viewed this also saw’ than find something out on our own.
The worth of our values, emotions and ultimately, our existence is now a statistic.
We’re perfectly capable of rational thought & exercising our endorsement of what is considered ‘good’. Yet, how rare is it that we entertain & let indigenous thought influence us over those that are ‘suggested’ or reflective of ‘trends’?
In an age of technological herd-mentality, our definition of what is valuable, what deserves attention & how much attention should be paid to what others consider of value must all be subject to question.
We don’t live in an era of moral depravity. We live in one that is philosophically bankrupt. Stack up your pennies & quarters & invest wisely, because your ideals, values and morals have all been tracked, predicted & sold to the highest bidder.