The discussion about one should not tweet what one won’t say to someone’s face in real life / in-person, is now old. If this is the first time you’re reading or hearing about this, think about it. If we meet in real life, and you tell me to fuck-off, by all means say it to me on Twitter. But if you would be embarrassed to say that to me in person, why say it to me on Twitter? The answer to that is that it is easier to hide behind an online profile – or so it seems. If we then meet in person, how would you approach that interaction? “Oh I was only joking on Twitter when I told you to fuck-off.” Really?
Even in real life, when we meet someone for the first time, we give them the benefit of the doubt – even when what is coming out of their mouth sounds silly. We do this because we don’t know them. We don’t know their story, their life, their circumstances. So we give them some time before we judge them. ( To say that we don’t judge people is a fallacy because some automatic pre-judgement is a natural human tendency. )
Even a genuine, simple question posed to a stranger on Twitter might be perceived as a challenge. Not because you are challenging or because the other person is silly but because both parties are strangers. And we can’t eve read body language or detect tonality in voice. These two things help us decide whether someone is attacking us verbally in-person. On Twitter, this is lost.
Whether these are Govt. officials or actors or well-known artists. It is incredibly silly to make fun of them because not only do we not know them or their circumstances, whatever little we do think we know, is usually colored and twisted by what the “news” chooses to represent. Despite how much news coverage a celebrity gets, for example, what their real life is like, we will never know. Same with Govt. officials.
A lot of time what these people say – as part of press interviews – is misrepresented and presented out of context. We build up their personalities according to this misrepresentation and that is our fault.
Not that I have experience. But even hiring a daily house keeper – the “maid” – has been impossible for us at home. It’s been six-seven years since we’ve had one and we don’t intend to change that. The invasion of privacy that we accept to live with on a daily basis is mind-boggling. I can’t imagine what it must be for someone who is a celebrity and whose each move is watched closely by complete strangers and sometimes even family.
Sometimes, undeniably, people say silly things. Genuinely silly things. Because they come from a different place than us. Take our parents for example. They say the silliest things sometimes. I don’t know how you deal with that but I challenge their view point – politely. I question them. I present different points of view. And sometimes I just let it be because sometimes they are not going to change their mind no matter what you do or say.
Everyone was a child at some point in their lives. I look at everyone like that. You never know. I’m not saying one must give everyone the benefit of the doubt but one must take some time to get to know them before judging. This is not possible on Twitter unless the other person is inclined to engage in conversation with strangers on the Internet. I know I’m not inclined to engage with strangers unless within a couple of tweets we have established that they are open to learning, open to discussion and open to “agreeing to disagree”.
The people running our Govt. come from a different generation and they can say the silliest of things like our parents. This does not absolve them of the responsibility of representing the younger section of India’s population. But it doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility for compassion and conversation. Especially those who have access to these people and can actually engage them in conversation.
I feel that we must be relentless in our compassion and conversations. But we must be kind.
But we are not five years old anymore. We’re adults and we need to behave like adults.
That’s what I think anyway.
Happy New Year 2017!