Blogging 2017

Fashionably Ignorant

*Hagrid prepares to kick a hornet’s nest*

In modern times, there is one thing that is gaining increased popularity. It has become fashionable, in fact. Instead of being frowned upon and sorted out, it has become the common practice to ‘not know’.

Yes, if you are remembering that latest soft drink commercial, welcome. This post was in part triggered by that.

So I have seen many of my peers being unsure about a lot of things in life. Hesitation and uncertainty are very much a part of human lives, and no one is immune to it. But to parade a lack of certainty as an admirable quality is a strict no. Accepting it as a flaw and working towards correcting it is probably a route a sensible person would take.

I have been uncertain about almost every major decision I have made, and would probably be so in my future decisions too. It is inevitable that I would have to think about the ramifications of all the various outcomes of a decision I would make and about how it will affect the trajectory of my future. But there is a certain time limit for procrastinating and I am never proud about not knowing what to say or do.

In many cases, not knowing something has been a cause for embarrassment or a perpetual sense of unease. I prefer to work on the things I do know, and learn the things I don’t. Which is precisely why the latest trend is coming as a bit of a shocker to my sensitivities. ‘Not knowing’ the answers for life’s major questions including future plans and milestone decisions is considered an admirable quality of Gen-Y.

From memes to the much more serious articles, social uncertainty has become the ‘in’ thing. If ever a life decision is delayed, it is defined as prudent to say ‘I don’t know’ as an answer to all questions and wear that cape proudly. Anyone who questions the need for clarity is immediately tagged as traditional and conforming to stereotypes.

The irony of a herd of sheep calling a mountain goat as a blind follower is evident in the haughty and caustic attitude of those ‘who don’t know’. There is a list of things that were once considered taboo but are now considered fashionable, preferable and sometimes even the ‘norm’. The latest addition to this list is ‘not knowing.’

It is one thing to accept flaws and find workarounds and know that a lot of people are sailing in the same boat. But it is an entirely different thing to cat call those who refuse to sail on the same boat. The peer pressure to ‘not know’ things has reached an almost religious fanaticism that is at places scary and downright worrying.

There is a famous Tamil proverb that I do not wish to paraphrase or translate here. But those who have seen the ad previously discussed in this post would know what I am talking about here. In addition to proudly proclaiming ignorance, there is also a jeering, derisive jibe at those who know.

The reason behind this unacceptable psychologically manipulative pressure is very simple – going with the flow is much easier. There is a huge chasm of difference between those who are helplessly ignorant and fashionably ignorant. In one of the modern generation’s greatest ironies, these two are blended seamlessly and it is becoming increasingly difficult to sieve through the same.

In a generation where mental illnesses are romanticized so much that the real sufferers are being sidelined by the sudden wave of those who call themselves ‘depressed’ and ‘affected by OCD’ just to garner attention or evoke sympathetic pats, it is highly unlikely that the distinction between the two types of uncertainty can be made clearer.

Almost all mistakes have become excuses. Deliberate mistakes are now considered set alright with mere superficial apologies. Laughing at anyone who dares to follow a separate path is very much today’s reality, and the culprits are those who once declared they’d follow a different path from the ‘traditional values’. It would have been attractive, if only everyone had not followed that road and made the room crowded.

The underlying problem for most of these things is again the uncertainty and a need for acceptance amidst the happening crowd. A lot many people are pushed towards the wave without conscious will, often realizing and regretting only after it is too late. Understanding the difference between being boldly unique and being commonly fashionable is a basic survival skill we all need to learn at some point in life. Maybe now is the time to start.

*Pensive Hagrid*

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