Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Putting a Gag on the Gossip
One reason people love being in big cities and towns is the luxury of anonymity, and all that you can do without worrying about prying eyes and wagging tongues. It is also the very reason why other people prefer being in smaller and familiar set-ups – they feel secure, wanted and naturally curious. Both scenarios are good. The ability to communicate intelligently is probability what propelled the human species to overcome all others in the evolutionary race for survival. Today we are masters of the universe (even though that might be stretching it). The rest of the species that inhabit the earth do so at our whim. When such powers are vested and executed with irresponsibility, the results are dangerous. We have helped in wiping out many of our co-inhabitants.
We now try and protect the surviving precious few.
And when it comes to communicating, we have out-done and out-smarted ourselves. Being too clever isn’t necessarily a virtue. It can become a vice, and as demonstrated in some sociopolitical mediums, a vice that hovers on hatred, negativity, exaggeration and vindictive gossip. The speech aspect was known to be quite a nag, hence the Buddha’s instruction and advice on practicing Right Speech. Together with Body and Mind, Speech is emphasized as one of the three vital manifestations.
But anyways, in a day and age where you can solar-power a prayerwheel and keep digital tracks your chants and prostrations, what is a 2500 year-old scripture? The social-media networking sphere is the new chosen battlefield, where the veil of anonymity pushes personal agendas and in some forums, unabated character assasinations under the guise of debates and discussions. And there are no stones left unturned.
This is also where the unique Bhutanese breed finds expression to all his ailments. With exceptions here and there, the so-called arguments are plain accusations, defamations and speculations that attack the person more than the issue.
The details can be more than intimidating. They know what you wear, what you drive, where you go, who you meet and obviously, what you do - not very surprising, given the relatively small circles in which Bhutanese people move about. But what is not only surprising and shocking but also disturbing is the venom and vile with which they probe you. In all probability, these commentators are people that are close to you: a colleague at work, a neighbor, perhaps even a friend.
Some of the targets and subjects of unscrupulous scrutiny made the fatal flaw of responding in kind, in an attempt to pacify the accusers and clear purported allegations. It only added fuel to the fire. Another person, scrutinized and judged to kingdom come was affected and disturbed to the point of making it a legal case. These were just two of the hundreds that have been chosen as their topical discussion.
If you happen to be discussed, take heart, for there is always another one waiting to be dissected. This is the other face of social networking, and one that has to be accepted as the ugly reality of anonymous hitchhikers freeloading a ride.
If it is at your expense, don’t pay the bill.