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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Socialization Modern Style

 The dictionary meaning of socialization seems to have undergone a sea change. It is no longer sitting together to have a healthy exchange of views amongst members of a community, but mindless babble deafening the ears, or a race for one-upmanship. The other day while ruminating over a few existential matters, sitting in the lawn, I was joined by two ladies. Needless to say they belonged to the neighborhood of my second ‘home’. One of them complimented me on my dress, but the other completely ignored it, so much so that a sullen expression momentarily crossed her visage. The problem is that she has an inflated opinion about herself in everything and keeps on flaunting it all the time, to the muted chagrin of almost all her listeners except of course the other lady who outwits her in garrulity .Though I had experienced their chattiness before but that day it was a different ball game altogether and I was not prepared for a double assault. Trepidation broke loose in my being at the prospect of facing their verbal attack all alone.

Luck was not favoring me that day. After seating themselves comfortably in their chairs, they started articulating their stream of consciousness at break neck speed. The customary necessity of even a smile or a nod from the listener was not considered by them. Blow after blow of cacophonic hammering on my temples from either side left me literally gasping for breath. For them I was not even a mere presence but a thing to be trampled on with their verbosity. My nerves were on edge as they continued their harangue ad nauseam. The blah blah ranged from the likes and dislikes of their husbands and their grandchildren, to pet dogs and their fussy eating habits, to pet bunnies with their ubiquitous burrows and unending litters, to pet parrots and other canary birds. The talk also covered kitchen gardens and the upkeep of their sprawling lawns in their first homes, birth and wedding anniversaries of their kith and kin and a lot more. Why did they go on and on- though linguists rue the inadequacy of language-(pun intended) unveiling their private lives and the inanities of their existence was inexplicable? They were vying with each other to speak and tried all the time to drown each other’s voice by raising voice decibel.

I do have encountered such annoyances previously in my community but what perplexes me is the dumbness of those who continue to exploit your good manners without realizing, what a pain they are with their unceasing chatter!

Apparently such people naively think they impress their listeners but are oblivious of the fact that their listeners get too tired even to make an effort to say a word edge ways. Thus instead of a meaningful dialogue there is a frustrating monologue and none is any wiser for that. The above appraisal may be a little harsh but nonetheless it is true.

There is another type of extreme narrative in Aldous Huxley’s novel ‘Brave New World’ (a negative utopia) peopled with totally predictable gammas, betas and epsilons. Where emotions are a taboo, thinking is a disease, private life is extinct, and promiscuity is a norm. No conversations take place.Vocabulary is reduced to a few hundred words and nuances of meaning have been abolished e.g. opposite of good is ungood. The life of these emotionless people is governed by a few slogans which are ingrained into their systems from birth itself. A sample: ‘Ending is better than mending’ meant to promote consumerism.

Can’t we as thinking beings envisage a world and also make it happen, which follows a middle path between these two extremes? Only then, our disenchantment and cynicism will give place to  productive inter- relatedness, which will elevate the participants and restore their dignity.

Dear friends: Your comments are solicited.

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