What do you feel?
I am fed up of a typical question mediapersons ask in every interview: what’s your opinion on X issue? Let me put it straight. As a scribe, I haven’t asked anyone this question till date and pray, will never. I don’t feel it’s necessary for every person to react on everything under the sun. I know, what I feel hardly matters, as this question is almost invariably answered. A film personality may pass some comments on politics, sports or even international affairs. This isn’t confined to social or glamour fields; this is something we come across in day-to-day life.
It’s not merely about making opinions but about passing instant judgments! Generalising things often makes matters worse. This headline in a leading business paper caught my attention. It was about Marissa Mayor, Yahoo CEO, joining work within two weeks of her maternity leave. The newspaper went to the extent of saying that she was setting a bad precedent for career-oriented women. After a few days, I saw her maternity leave sparking off debates and discussions not only in world’s leading newspapers but also on social networking sites!! When it was discussed in our newsroom, I refused to encourage anything related to this not because the issue was insignificant. I don’t think that matter could or should be seen in an Indian context.
But it happens. People love to be judgmental about others pretty quickly. Whenever I accompany my friends to a hotel, mall or anywhere else, I have observed this peculiar tendency of criticising or appreciating passersby.
Once I was sitting with a friend at a coffee shop. She was observing a couple sitting at the next table. We could make out there was some heated argument going on. My dear friend suddenly opinionated that the lady was dominating and the couple would part ways soon! She continued talking about it for half an hour, passing comments about many of our common friends and relatives all the while. Finally, I stopped her and pointed out a little rudely that she was indulging in discussion that would go nowhere.
Most of the times, such comments are made without understanding the other side of the story. Celebrity marriages, remarriages, divorces are all discussed one-sidedly. Sachin Tendulakar’s retirement, Asha Bhosale’s daughter’s suicide or Kareena-Saif’s wedding, every person down the road talks with been-there-seen-it air!! Gossiping lot can talk about anything, vegetable being cooked in a household to Obama’s poll prospects.
How can we comment without knowing anything first-hand? There could be many angles to an issue what you and I may not know of. Marriage, divorce or retirement is one’s own matter; so what is a person is a celebrity?
Again, every individual is unique. We cannot apply the rule of Marissa Mayor to others simply because position, responsibilities and priorities differ from person to person. That’s probably the reason why Big B is reluctant to comment on many things, as he sees himself as an actor and not an all-knowing expert.
It may be a common tendency yet taking undue interest in others’ lives is not something to be proud of. Nevertheless, there also are people who deliberately form no opinions on certain matters or people, not because they aren’t capable but they are focussed on what they want.
An aside: I deliberately cut down on being judgmental about others and the mind really started becoming clearer.