I am part of numerous writing groups on Facebook and I see posts of many freelance writers cribbing about how the companies do not pay money in time, how people should stop asking their talent for favors. This one writer was really talented. When narrating an incident in a blog post, she brought the scenes alive. And she mostly wrote non-fiction. A few days back, she asked for people who had gone through a divorce or break up after a long relationship and she would like to talk to them, through a social media post. Needless to say, many fans responded to that thread and hopefully, she talked to few of them. The topic didn’t interest me so I didn’t read the article when it came out in a leading e-magazine.
And last week she was asking about downtrodden women who had suffered domestic violence and then again there were some people who volunteered to put her in touch with someone they knew. It got uncomfortable to me for a couple of reasons. This writer is obviously making money writing these articles. I mean if she had committed to writing about the emotional trauma of people who ended a long-term relationship, obviously she would have quoted money which includes research costs. But however, it didn’t look like she was paying any of them. “My happywalla hug to you”, “I will buy you chai” is the replies mostly. Because I am incorrigible, I went ahead and commented “Do we get money to share our stories with the writer?” and all I got was a ‘Ha Ha’ reaction.
This is troubling. If no people talked to you about their feelings or what they went through, you wouldn’t have a story and the article won’t exist. So what is the problem in sharing the money? And how do you even think it is okay to make money out of my misery?
The second thing is this. Its okay people who went through something and come out of it. But why do people feel the need to share their stories to complete strangers? Of Course, I am not saying it is wrong. But it is sad to see the definition of some words which are close to me are changing. And mostly with social media, it is over dramatization. People who take a train to reach office or bus to reach office or have to wait in queue for milk packets find a way to victimize themselves by something or someone.
If you had a normal, protected childhood where people gave respect to your choices, with great teachers and friends, finished schooling and college at the right age and got settled in a job before you are in your middle twenties, you are boring according to people. The women in 80’s who had to endure harassment by family as well as in the office, traveling a long distance in a bus to work, took care of the home as well as an office are just pushed aside as aunties who advise the rebels and not understand them. I mean shouting aloud in social media with #rebel doesn’t mean anything to them because they lived the life of rebel for a decade while we have it relatively easy.
There is a phrase called “what comes after the but in a sentence is very important because that is the truth”. Now people who pose themselves as survivors or winners dwell too much on how they were wronged and how they had to go through hell but clearly avoid telling that each and everything they did was their choice. Surprisingly the so-called survivors cannot own up their mistakes because it may spoil their story. So the mistake will always be by others.
Make no mistake, I agree it takes some courage to fight through issues and come up but it takes real strength to choose wisely in the first place so as to not get into such trouble first place. Making idols of the flawed people will force the general public to think about the bad things that happened to them and I have seen some people feel bad because they didn’t have enough problem in lives. If you look at it in a broad perspective, this is what is happening to our country or world as a whole. We are separated and divided into small groups who feel that we are the victims of the way the world functions. One religion in our country thinks that even if it is the majority, they are cheated for their rights and rituals. The other religion in our country thinks because there is a different government in the center they are cheated off their basic rights. This is true for each and every country and their sub-groups and individuals.
I don’t know if this would be a way forward but I feel if we stop victimizing ourselves for what happened to us but taking charge of life, then things would change. When people put their head down and worked like an ox, we didn’t have all these divisions and problems. We have to stop making idols out of flawed individuals however beautifully they write their poems, their stories or their lives.