By the time you read this, the dust will almost have settled on the Jasleen Kaur-Sarvajeet Singh incident. Mainstream media has already torn the guy to pieces, and social media has torn into the girl. People are bored now, and must be busy oiling their ‘outrage’ guns to point and shoot at someone else.
When Jasleen posted about Sarvajeet Singh on Facebook, it didn't take long for the post to go viral. Yes, we supported Jasleen because she was (is) a girl. Apparently reality was exactly the opposite of what she posted. But this gender bias is not exclusive to India. I remember reading about an outrage caused by a woman who tweeted about a guy. Apparently he cracked a sexist joke while sitting behind her at a tech conference. The joke was not aimed at any gender. It was something innocent and typical that guys would laugh over. But her tweet led to an outrage and cost the guy his job. He was married and had three children at that time.
Let’s look beyond this gender bias. There is a deeper layer. We stood in support of Jasleen for the same reason that we loved Rahul Dravid and Manmohan Singh. The same reason why, even now, there are many supporters of Arvind Kejriwal.
They play the victim card.
|Image courtesy: MensXP|
See I think mediocrity and internal dissatisfaction are deeply rooted in us because of the way we are treated. Whether while travelling to work, or at our workplaces, we are constantly exposed to situations and people we don’t like, and feel disrespected. Somewhere, everyone of us has felt, or still feels, victimized. And when someone appears to be victimized, when we feel like the person is helpless, our protective instincts go into overdrive.
We believed Dravid was a victim when Ganguly was dropped from the Indian squad after altercations with Greg Chappell. We believed Manmohan Singh was a victim when politicians around him indulged in scams that bled our country dry. We still believe Kejriwal is a victim because of his relentless rants of not having control of Delhi - who cares about the fact that he is busy plotting against the government rather than taking care of his own constituency! We believed Jasleen was a victim because she said that she was harassed by the boy. Arnab Goswami went insane (went?), India outraged (#FightBackIndia), and a police case was lodged against the boy. Well done outragers. And this is precisely why leaders like Narendra Modi and MS Dhoni have countless haters… because they stand for what they believe in, and refuse to answer for their actions to idiots. They refuse to be victims, and that makes us uncomfortable.
Do we know the real story before we outrage? Do we think about the possible repercussions on people before slinging mud on them? Haven’t we shamelessly forwarded WhatsApp jokes like ‘God Bless Sunny Leone’ when Abdul Kalam died, or during the bomb blast in Bangkok, or the crash of MH370? What gives us the right to point fingers at someone else and demand that they be punished? What gives us the right demand that people get scarred for life?
The media simply sensationalizes these cases for ratings. And we, who have nothing better to do than peek into others’ lives, play along, living our days one outrage after another. All this while the media laughs its way to the bank, politicians quietly indulge in hopelessly immoral acts, and real issues lie suppressed and unaddressed.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we must ignore issues. But there is a difference between an outrage and a protest. In the former, we simply say slanderous things and call for punishment of those whom WE consider guilty. In the latter, we step out of our houses, leave our phones behind, and do something that makes the relevant people sit up and take notice.
If you want to place your faith in people, place it in those who work quietly, rather than those who keep complaining, or leading outrages, or Cinderellas waiting to be rescued. Remember the proverb you learnt in school: ‘Empty vessels make the most noise’? Maybe our teachers were preparing us for today so that we could behave like mature individuals rather than play ball with people who whip out the victim card more than Arnab Goswami says “The nation wants to know.” Start by looking at your own life and improving it. Reduce looking at the lives of others. Stop whining. Do things that make you happy. You will find that you don’t have the time or patience to participate in outrages. Gradually, you will prefer keeping whiners at a fair distance. And yes, choose your role models carefully. Make a poor choice and you never know when you will wind up at the wrong end of the outrage trend.
I was deeply disturbed when people started sharing the video where a TimesNow journo misbehaved with Sarvajeet Singh. But I was heartened by his courage when he didn’t back down and stayed calm throughout. And gradually, I was also heartened by the fact that websites and people were critical of the appalling behavior of the journalist. Just like the tech conference incident mentioned above, where the woman got a fair bit of flak too, people fought back here, showing that good sense does prevail sometimes.
Jasleen, if you are reading this post, I want to ask you one question: Are you a bully? And you, dear reader, I want to know what you are going to do to stop siding with those who demand sympathy and choose to look at both sides of a story.