Monday, August 15, 2011

Internet Snobbery

It's funny how with the advent of widespread internet usage, people seem to suddenly have opinions about every single thing on the planet. And with platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, they want to voice their opinions regarding every miniscule thing and foist them down everyone else's throats.

And, God forbid, should someone not agree or not like what they have to say, well, they're ready to defend their opinions till their dying day, in their chat lingo, on every internet forum available to them.

Frankly, I am about tired of these internet wars. They seem to serve no purpose in life other than boosting people's egos and wasting people's time.

Watch any YouTube video, and there will be a war in the comments section. On topics totally unrelated to the video. Pick up any random status update on Facebook with any observation or comment about anything, and there will be at least one person in the comments who begs to differ. And then they will both proceed to squabble and establish their superiority over each other.

Like this:
Source: here

I wonder what ever happened to the notion of having "differences of opinion" ....and just leaving it at that? Never heard of the saying "to each his own"?

There's a new culture developing amongst people these days, I call it "Internet Snobbery". These are people who think that "I am smart, and so if I feel like this, I am right, and everyone who doesn't agree with me is a dumb loser". It's just not done.Why can't people accept that everyone is going to have a different opinion about everything and just let it be. Whenever someone says something on a virtual platform, someone else will have to disagree and call him a dumbfuck and laugh at him for saying that thing.

I am all for sensible debates about important issues where both sides benefit and it broadens everyone's point of view regarding the issue. But just putting down someone because you don't agree with them and carrying around a "holier than thou" attitude all the time is so not done.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But constantly squabbling, disagreeing, and insulting what someone else says/thinks/writes, is just bad etiquette, and it's irritating as hell. I just don't see how it's justified in any way.

I know it's considered good to call a spade a spade, but what if no one wants to hear YOU call their spade (which may or may not be a spade), a spade? Wouldn't it be better to just leave them alone, then? Rather than going to their blog or Facebook wall and shouting "THIS IS A SPADE, THIS IS A SPADE", when no one wants to listen to you. Did they ask for your opinion about their spade, seriously? Then why can't you just ignore their spade, for once, and go do something more useful? So what if he's got a spade and he doesn't know it? Let him live his illusion. You just go live your life. When someone asks you for your advice, then you can call a spade a spade.

I know that people might be ignorant and stupid at times, and you might feel the need to banish their ignorance by snobbishly proclaiming, what, in your opinion, might be the better point of view, but do you really always need to proclaim your opinions to others?

There's this obsession we all are developing for instant gratification by getting people to like our status updates, or agree with what we say, and love what we love. It's scaring me.

I am not even saying that I haven't been guilty of everything I am writing about. I am pretty sure I have. And I am not being diplomatic over here. But now I am finally realizing how pointless squabbling over the internet can be. And how short lasting this instant gratification thing is.

I mean, is it really necessary to even HAVE an opinion about everything? For example, here are some things I have no opinion about. I don't care enough about them to have an opinion.

Justin Bieber. Indian Cricket team. Independence day. Politics. Economic depression. Saifeena. Your relationship status. Gay marriage. And probably a lot more.

See, it's just so much more easier to not care. Why rack you brains, come up with an intelligent sounding opinion, and then bombard it on others?

Writing this post reminds me of the Jain Principle of Anekantavada. That is one notion that has always fascinated me to no end. Translated literally, "Anekantavada" means "no-one-perspective-ism," in other words, the multiplicity and relativity of views. By this, they meant that in many cases the arguments proposed by the various participants in a debate all hold some validity. It is the notion that truth and reality are perceived differently from diverse points of view, and that no single point of view is the complete truth (Yes, I just copy pasted that line from somewhere). It basically teaches you to accept other people's points of view and allow that they might be true in their own right and within their limitations.

This principle is best explained by the story of the blind men and the elephant. (Source: here)

 "A well-known story from Jain mythology helps to illustrate Anekantavada. Five blind men have never seen an elephant. When one day an elephant is brought to the village, the five approach, touch and attempt to describe it. One man, who is standing by the trunk, describes it as a thick branch of a tree. The man who feels the tail disagrees, insisting it is rather like a rope. The man who touches the side, in turn, submits that the elephant is actually like a great wall. But the man at the elephant's leg says it is like a pillar, and the man who gets hold of the ear describes it as a huge fan. Luckily, a wise sixth man is nearby to mitigate the dispute. He proclaims that, in fact, all are right, but only partially right. An accurate description of the elephant lies in combining the various partial views. Consequently, a complete understanding of any truth requires the consideration and acceptance of a variety of viewpoints."

Yeah, I know, it's sort of difficult to understand this principle. I don't think I actually have, till now. But it's definitely fascinating.

I realize I may have veered off topic.

Moving on.

I also strongly believe that if you don't have something good to say about some particular thing, it is better to say nothing, rather than to say something bad. But then, that's just my personal opinion. I will not force it upon you. I guess.

But then, what did I just do by writing this post? I don't know. I give up. :-P

So then this is the end of my rant. Just rest assured, that I won't be participating in any internet wars from now on.

How have you all been? Let me know :-)

Monday, August 1, 2011

Catching up. And deaf culture.

I know.

Long time, no see.

I was just going through a hide - underground phase. Didn't feel like writing much. Now I'm back. And I'm rusty.

Anywho. Internship's been going on pretty much as usual and as expected. But most times I really enjoy the contact with various kinds of people it brings for me.

Now just during my last 15 day Ophthalmology posting, all I did was check the visual acuity of the patients in the OPDs. Very boring, you might think? Yeah. I guess. But you know, not really.

It's just fun coming across so many people and all their idiosyncrasies and wondering about their back stories.

And I just love it when a patient comes and wishes me "Good morning Doctor" with a really excited smile. It makes my day.

So, ophthal brought me tons of kids who thought reading out the visual acuity chart correctly was like passing in a school test, old ladies who forced their life stories upon me instead of getting tested, the relatives who tried to prompt to the patients whenever they wouldn't read correctly, the little kid who tried to cheat by peeking through her good eye every single time I asked her to read anything, the proud uncles who were too embarrassed to admit they couldn't see, and the pros who were so used to the testing they just told me up to which line they could read. And of course, the occasional lecherous old men. But yeah.

I pretty much enjoyed the experience. 

But there's one story I'm unlikely to forget. A 17 year old kid came in one day along with his father. He was thin, lanky, and otherwise looked non-descript. Once he took his seat his father informed me that he was deaf. I was mildly surprised, but didn't react. Instead I was pretty much in awe.

*More info required here* So, of late, I have taken to watching a new series called 'Switched at birth'. One of the two protagonists on the show is deaf, and the show also has a lot of other hearing-impaired characters. The show has vastly improved my knowledge and education regarding the community of deaf/hearing-impaired people, acquainted me with the kind of lives they live, and helped me develop an immense respect and greater awareness about them. It also introduced me to what is known as deaf culture, as well as to the ongoing debate in the community regarding cochlear implants.

I have never ever met a deaf /hearing-impaired person earlier in my life. So when I came across this kid, I looked at him in wonder. I know that some deaf people talk aloud, and some don't. He was one who didn't talk aloud. His dad pretty much talked for him. I also noticed that neither of them used sign language, quite unlike what I saw on the show. Neither did the kid seem to know lip-reading. But then again, this was India. So then their problems and the way they live over here and how they deal with it would be totally different. I probably still need a lot more education in this area.

Anyhow, so, back to the story. The kid sat there, a bit confused about how to proceed. I immediately got up, and started pointing out to the boxes I wanted him to read, and he immediately responded by gesturing the answers with his fingers. He looked sad when he couldn't read beyond two lines with one eye, and nothing with the other. That meant even his vision was poor.

When I glanced at his papers, his history said that he had been diagnosed with a cancer in his lymph nodes a couple of years back and was still undergoing treatment for the same. And now, from the looks of it, even his vision was receding. he didn't wear spectacles, so it had to be a recent development.

After knowing all this, I couldn't  bear to ask his father anything else. About whether he was hearing impaired since birth, since when and why was his vision receding, and how was he dealing with the cancer. How can one person have to deal with so many problems and that too so early on in their lives?

It scared the shit out of me. So I acted like a coward. I was too scared to find out what his life was like. I didn't want to know. I wouldn't have been able to bear it. So I didn't ask. I just politely sent him his way.

Hopefully I will learn better. But I have thought about him often after that.Which has obviously led to this post.

Then just a few days after that incident, I came across this quote put up in a frame inside my ENT department:

"I am just as deaf as I am blind. The problems of deafness are deeper and more complex, if not more important than those of blindness. Deafness is a much worse misfortune. For it means the loss of the most vital stimulus-- the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir, and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.

Blindness separates us from things but deafness separates us from people."

- Hellen Keller.

While I had heard of Hellen Keller before this, I didn't really know her story very well. Researching that thought-provoking quote led me to read more about her. I am so glad that happened. Her story was one of the few truly inspiring ones I have read.

It also made me realize that the Hindi movie 'Black' must be inspired by her story. I just wish it hadn't starred Amitabh Bachchan (Yeah, I don't like him too much). Just watch this trailer and you'll see how similar the two movies must be if you've seen Black. Now I am going to watch the original movie.

Anyhow, so I am going to correct my lack of knowledge about hearing disabled people. Hopefully my post will make you want to do the same.

I guess I'll leave you now with all this food for thought. End of post.

Good night and good bye.