Anti social

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:

#MeToo

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.

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Anti social

  1. Hangaku Gozen

    Can you not keep the holiday visits brief? I know it’s hard when it’s family, but I used to have a two-hour limit for big parties. I stay long enough to say hello, hold a baby or two, pretend I’m interested in the latest gossip and drink a little wine: then I’m outta there! If I came with another family member who refuses to stop gabbing and leave, I tell them I’m going to go to the car and wait (hint, hint). I also drop another big hint that if they really want to stay longer, they can catch a ride with someone else. That last one is admittedly mean, but I have less patience in old age, and some people, especially other old people, just don’t know when to leave a party.

    The hashtag MeToo topic is touchy for some women, I think because they still feel embarrassed or ashamed of what happened. Many of us—I’m not sure about Indian culture, but certainly in Japanese culture, women internalize the violence and humiliation done to them. “If only I hadn’t….” is a common thought, as if one had invited being raped, flashed, grabbed, catcalled. I haven’t participated, even though I could tell a story or two about what goes on in academia (colleges are a hotbed of sexual harassment, in spite of all the workshops one is obligated to attend). I’m just not enthused about social media, or talking about my experiences in front of the wall of strangers which is the internet. My daughters don’t have those hangups however, so there’s hope.

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    1. Gobblefunkist Post author

      I stayed for one hour. Any longer I’d have been catatonic!

      The people on my Whatsapp are not strangers. They are friends and family who have no qualms talking about who has had an abortion and who menopaused . Anything serious or inportant, they disappear. And they call me too intense.

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  2. Maha

    Very rarely do I notice a status update or DP change on whatsapp! I know we are not, but if we were, that’s why mostly. Or I am brain fried to send a note.

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  3. Laksh

    Very similar train of thought in my head all day yesterday. I truly feel the only world that seems to welcome me is the online one. Real life friends and family are either too embarrased to be associated with me or hate that I share so much that they go all radio silent on me.

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  4. Carol

    I understand exactly what you are saying about the blogging world. It is much easier for me to express my feelings honestly and openly here, without fear (or concern about) of reprisal. I think it has to do with the relative anonymity the internet provides, but also the knowledge that people can choose to read my words – or not.
    As to the #MeToo post – I agree with Hangaku Gozen – women tend to accept responsibility, or have in the past, just as we tend to accept responsibility for relationships gone wrong. “If only I hadn’t”, “if only I changed this about myself”, “if only. . .”. Because that’s how we were brought up. That’s what society has demanded for eons. And men have been taught it is their right to do as they wish, with no ramifications. It’s not fair, but I’m not sure I hold much hope of it changing much in the near future.

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  5. SS

    Most people want to just fit in and not rustle any feathers LG. They want to maintain their good Indian “whatever” identity.

    This particular topic of sexual harassment being swept under the rug in India is mind boggling. There are surely many reasons for it. One of them probably is because the girl/woman or her family does not want anyone to know that she is not chaste (I could not find the right word here) in any way. And the perpetrators know that very well. They know that they will not be exposed. How superbly is our society enabling these creeps. I am only referring to the smaller sexual harassment incidents that happen all over the place and not the violent crimes. This is definitely one of the CONS of our society that most people don’t want to acknowledge.

    I hope we will see some changes with our younger generation when the double standards for the virtue of a man and woman are diminishing. I hope the young women of today are much more empowered to speak up. I hope today’s parents are doing a much better job in raising our children with awareness and letting them know that they are there to protect them from all evil including this one. I think there is hope here.

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  6. Brian Lageose

    I definitely understand your frustration and disappointment when it comes to family members and physical friends not visibly supporting a stand that you might take, especially when you know some of those people share very similar thoughts as you. It gives you the sense that their “appearance” to others is more important than their relationship with you. Unless you face physical or legal backlash, why shouldn’t you support someone who voices your own thoughts? Some things are far more important than keeping up appearances or upholding outdated “traditions”…

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