A letter to my future self (after JNU incident).
25 years old. You are young. At this age, you are bound to have opinions about almost everything in life. That’s normal and natural. But forcing your opinion on someone is not a good habit.
Most importantly, believing and pursuing your current opinion always can lead you to a state where you will only know one part of the picture. Unlearning is hard. So, if your mind starts following one ideology, it will resist unlearning what you have learnt. In such a scenario, you will be easily diverted by a politically motivated opinion. In such a situation, you will start classifying people as supporters and opponents; when they just have a different view. This is bad. You keep saying to others today, that you are not aligned to one political thought. But sooner or later, unknowingly you will be aligned and then misaligned.
How to prevent this?
Create a diverse set of group around yourself: The problem always lies within. You are a digitally connected youth (age 20–30) living in a very unsocial manner. At this age, you mostly connect with similar people: digitally connected and young. That’s where the fundamental problem is. Remember REVA Zero: Who helped you at the last moment? A 70-year-old lady, by saying yes to your event without knowing anything about it at 11 in the night. Who tells you the most exciting thing these days? A 6-year-old kid whom you have adopted or Taxi/Auto drivers you meet randomly.
It’s good to be around youths, but look out, you will find a lot of people from different age groups, different backgrounds, different caste, culture and creed. They might not be digitally connected, but they create an interesting variety in society. Understand what elders have to say. They are passing out their survival strategies (evolution theory) to you. Be curious when you are talking to kids. Meet designers, sociologists, economists, taxi drivers, archaeologists, journalists, pilots, historians, lawyers, teachers. Go out, meet exciting or random people, try to create a more significant group, try to bring them online and then remain connected with them.
Give time. Don’t rush towards creating an opinion: At this age and this time, our curiosity to know something quickly is entirely natural. Our brain works fast at this stage. However, calm down. Understand that in a hurry, you will only be able to reach out to that content which is promoted or sponsored. You know how the software works. If you want this post to do good, you have to push it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (almost everywhere).
This is what is happening: If you are in a hurry, you are not reaching out to quality content; the sponsored content, the quick bites, the viral content are reaching out to you. This is dangerous.
To prevent this, stop following the ‘feeds' - both the good and the bad ones. Stop following The Frustrated Indian and The Logical Indian. Stop following the Scoopwhoop and the Buzzfeed. Stop using Twitter. Anything that can change your opinion in a few words is scary.
Instead create a space in CoBeats, about the topic that interests you and curating everything that you have found, every fucking article - even if it contradicts your thought. In JNU incident, for example, before creating an opinion try meeting a couple of students who were there at that moment. What do they feel? How do professors of JNU are reacting to this? Don’t ask for opinions. Ask what happened. Curate first, understand and then make an opinion.
Don’t give up: Once you have made an opinion (after following the above steps) don’t give up. Even if in a discussion, person A is not making any sense, try saying your points. Don’t feel that it’s wastage of time to convince a fool/idiot/bhakt/leftist/secularist. You are not convincing him/her or anyone. You are sharing your knowledge with the world. Sharing knowledge is a great thing. Don’t allow people to assume your 'disinterest to say’ as your ‘inability to say’. Say it, because by saying it you will learn more about the topic. But remember, share your knowledge, only when you have an understanding about it. Else communicate with people online and offline, asking for more information.
You keep asking these questions: Why youth today have such strong opinions about something when they have not witnessed it? Why are they so resistant to change their opinion? Why do they act as brand ambassadors of a political party, even when they are not paid? Why are knowledgeable people falling in this trap?
The answer to this is simple:
- They don’t increase their group (either physically or by bringing more people online).
- They don’t give enough time to understand something. Quick info can be unreliable. In such matters, history and future course of action have a vital role to play.
- People who have got the knowledge, don’t care about sharing that knowledge. This allows a more significant chunk of people with half-baked expertise in the system.
Don’t fall for this trap, Devesh. You will be a better human.