I often wonder if I am delusional in that I feel best in the virtual world of blogging, and roll out of the physical society (minus the immediate family of course) like water drops off a lotus leaf. I am an introvert alright, and there are very few people in my real world that I can talk to easily and with engagement – my immediate family, a couple of cousins and a few friends – most from my childhood and three from adulthood. To others, I can be social and civil, and occasionally even charming, but it tires me considerably and I need many hours of down-time to recover. And it’s not the effort of communicating with them that tires me out, it is the aftertaste of the association – it is almost always not pleasant.
First case: On Diwali, we usually visit an uncle for blessings and the entire brood is there. I am not excited about going, and have opted out a few times. This year I went and as ever, throbbed along like a beached whale, in an extremely exuberant and rowdy crowd of 20 people. I took refuge in the kitchen, helping the hostess in catering to the constant demands of barrels of coffee and tea – doing something is better than sitting in a crowd listening to people ribbing and dissing each other. I cannot for the life of me tease anyone and cannot understand how hurling insults at another counts as having fun. As always, I returned with a mild sense of irritation and enormous exhaustion.
Second case: I am fairly active on WhatsApp. I update my profile picture every day, and my status update as well. My status updates usually comprise photos that I clicked of stuff and people, and occasionally messages/quotes that inspired me. There are at least a dozen people on my contact list (all women), who would ALWAYS leave a message in response to my status updates. Yesterday, my status update was this:
If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.
Guess how many people responded to my status message? ZERO.
I was expecting at least a few to write back to me (in private) supporting, empathizing and in general, saying something like they always do for my status updates. But no. Deafening silence. And trust me, it is not because they have not been sexually harassed – come on, we have grown up in India, the sexual harassment capital of the world. It is just that we don’t want to even acknowledge the problem.
This bothers me more than the rampant harassment – the fact that women would rather sweep the issue under the carpet and look away singing lalala when someone brings it up. Some months ago, I had written a post on sexual harassment I have faced growing up. While all my blog friends were supportive, my real-life contacts with whom I shared the post ignored it. One real-life person (a woman) told me that it is shameful for me to discuss this in a public domain – talk of victim shaming. I did not write about it then because I was too furious for coherent thought. I had sent the article to a friend of mine, and he told me that his wife has faced some traumatic experience in her childhood as well and she does not want to share it with him. I agree that its a person’s choice to share or not, but my opinion is that how are people going to know the problem if the ridden do not talk about it? This friend has a son, and unless the mother shares with her son the details of the trauma, how is the son going to look at a woman with respect?
I don’t know why I am so angry about the fact that no one acknowledged a message that involved reliving trauma and baring the deepest recess of the soul. This is why I feel so alienated in my real-life society.
Perhaps I am delusional in finding identity online. At least I can communicate with people with whom I can relate.