Sometime back, I read a post on @daddysan’s blog on choices and how we “defend freedom of choice but we criticize those who exercise it because those choices may not be concurrent with ours.” To be noted that the thrust of the argument is not on ‘labeling’ products/services per se, but labeling the people who consume it, more so in cases when it’s a personal choice and doesn’t endanger or even affect others in a significant way.
I found this post interesting because I have always been intrigued by choices and their significance, not just from the perspective of whether they are choices at all, but also from that of the judgmental robes we like to wear. The last time I had written about the latter was in the context of expertise. But a comment on this post gave me quite a new direction for thought. More on that in a bit.
In the context of the post itself, though I understand that labeling (and battles around them) has probably been around from the time the species became 2 in number, I think the publishing power that the internet created has taken it to a whole new level. So while “people who smoke/drink versus those who don’t”, “people who apply coconut oil on their hair versus those who don’t” and so on have had battles fought with much fervour, the internet’s ability to aggregate opinion has escalated many issues to war levels, like the examples daddysan has used.
And so I wonder if it has something to do with the ‘Like’ necessity that has increased its hold over our lives recently. Social endorsement, even from total strangers. When I am a consumer of X, and you chose to buy Y instead of X, it is as though you have not ‘Liked/Retweeted’ my awesome intelligence in choosing X. Peer reaction was probably a major factor in my choice, whether I acknowledge it or not, and in saying that I have gone wrong, you have invoked my ego and brought up the subject of whether I chose X purely for its tangible or even intangible benefits or whether I chose it to conform to some section’s decree. Now, you probably didn’t mean to do any of this, and also are under some sort of peer review process yourself, but that’s irrelevant and it’s now war. Just like many of the Likes/shares/retweets are from people I don’t even really know, the war just brings in all sorts of strangers and camps.
For the record, I have exactly one Apple product, which was gifted to me, and if it has any iron parts, it should be rusted by now. I read Chetan Bhagat and when I get a chance, take potshots at him. Just can’t resist. I think Ponytail sucks, and again, don’t lose a chance to crack a line at his expense, but I have held back much since the time he made a movie with the awesome Funny Deol. Joke sako to Joke low is the policy.
But, enough. The comment that made me think was made by Jo Chopra McGowan, and it was about how individual choices add up, affect others, and could probably end up in impacting popular culture/lifestyles etc. I’d never thought of it that way. But yes, most of us/our actions influence at least one other person, and so the chain goes. More often than not, our reasons for doing so remain un-shared, and somehow one personal choice could create a conformity wave. Obviously the easy way to stop it is to make conscious choices and that brings us to the vicinity of square one.
until next time, unheard mentality!