I remember reading “view your profile as others see it” on some social community websites and thinking about its effect in real life. Imagine downloading an instant summary of what people think of you with a simple click of a button. Then I thought some more, and the gravity of the idea came to light! Life without such quirks is already unlivable at times. Imagine peeking through everyone’s peepholes just to see yourself standing on the other side, stark naked (no, not Tony stark of Iron Man); stripped off all your beliefs, secrets and fears!
What I am about to jot down is a universal and timeless fact. Something every person (I by no means am excluded from the ‘human’ category, though certain teenage years had me in doubt) is stuck with; deep down in the smallest possible crevice of our existence lies uncontrollable fear of what people think of us. Ever experience that nauseous feeling just before you stand in front of a crowd to speak and your throat runs as dry as the desert? That rhythmic thumping of your heart like the hooves of a horse galloping towards the finish line; That abysmal state of daze as you realize you are not who you think you are. In fact you were never really that person. Through their eyes, two plus two is always a number beyond your knowledge. Those judgmental organs of skepticism are a deathly duo out to destroy anyone who crosses their paths. Whether we admit or not, these are powerful people we are dealing with. Maybe the Illuminati could learn some important pointers on mind control. How judgmental utterances and glances cripple years of carefully accumulated self-esteem, is baffling. The greatest of self-help writers have failed to come up with ways on how to ward off carping criticism and remain unaffected without going for the bottle, pill or ever worse.
Why? Essentially, we are a fault finding species. Its our favorite pursuit, second only to obnoxiousness! I am willing to bet my precious stash of notebooks that women even during the stone ages spent hours passing baseless judgments. I can almost envision the new neighbor who was deemed unfit for friendship because of her terrible taste in mammoth fur! It’s also not difficult to imagine how much time the stone age men spent obsessing about the new colleague in the “tool” department; who was unfortunately the only known vegetarian of their time (well, him and triceratops).
Even the animal kingdom is not as ruthless. Those supposedly brainless creatures tend to look out for their own kind. I don’t reckon banishment of a lion from its pride on account of a feeble roar; or a duck being ridiculed for a quirky quack. Fortunately ‘The Ugly Duckling‘ was an imaginary tale meant only to describe a pesky human flaw. In real life though, ugly ducklings don’t always get second chances or miraculous makeovers. If only the author had paid attention to this small detail. We hungrily grab at any chance to make fun of someone who walks a certain way, or has an odd voice, or simply because we know no other way. We stand in front of our children, unabashedly snickering at some unlucky man simply because his accent was way off our normal acceptance radar. Then we expect our children to be fair little angels with halos the size of Texas. If only these poor children knew that High School never really ends. Sneering, backbiting, gossiping and prejudice only mutate into unimaginable monstrosities. I sheepishly admit that I am no different. We are all a bunch of Judge Judy’s, waiting to strike our gavels the minute someone lands on a puddle.
Times have progressed. Literacy and education have deluged our lives. Yet it is hair-pulling-head-banging frustrating when stereotypical notions remain deeply etched in our minds like leeches on blood. Every time we utter a gratuitous statement about someone, we only end up damaging our own selves with all the negativity and shallowness. The world may be divided by boundaries but one truth maddeningly stands as firm as Obama’s stance on drone attacks; no matter where we go, chances are that somebody out there is casting you into a mold of their liking.
Far from any proclamation of self-righteousness, this is a reminder to myself and to those who are unfortunate enough to be caught in this endless verbiage; DO NOT JUDGE! Like some twisted game of Chinese whispers, you might just end up at the wrong end of the circle, with words you wished you had never heard!