Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Myopic Lives

When I was small, my mom taught me something for which I will never stop being grateful to her for.

My mother has been a teacher for most of her life, but I have never stopped learning from her. She taught me to keep learning, stay inquisitive & curious. No knowledge is enough. There is always something to learn. Always read the fine print. She always does.

This has defined me. I am forever questioning things, always over thinking things. Sometimes consciously, mostly the process is subconscious now. I admit to being quite annoying as I am forever interrupting and asking questions. And no question is stupid.

However, I have noticed that people get the idea that knowing something in-depth is getting into finer details. Do you really need to know so much? Who really reads the T&C? Why dig deeper?

However, when you step back and analyze you see that it cannot have been further from the truth. When you read the finer print, your canvas is expanding. Like the Universe, it is self expanding to the extent of infinity.

My work as a social media learner steadily involves me being subject matter expert in several different topics, all at the same time. The paucity of time always has us Googling and Wikiing for knowledge base and seeking answers. After all, how much is one person supposed to know, understand, analyze and retain!? Maybe not much. Surprisingly, I happen to know plenty of people who actually do!

While I can go on endlessly about the virtues of the said people who I happily get into pleasant long wounded discussions with about a wide variety of topics and how while I sometimes get annoyed at myself for not knowing enough, it will never stop me from probing how much more of this big wide world I am still to learn about; as much as I would love to, this post is not about that.

So, recently, I came across a couple of individuals who have garnered respect through years of hard work coupled with sheer awesomeness - Mani Ratnam & Ilaiyaraaja. (Just FYI - their birthdays coincide!). While I contemplated aloud, the reaction I garnered makes for the nucleus of this blog. I was shocked and surprised to be asked who they are (If you asked the same, please Wiki it and stop reading this right now!).

Quite frankly, I like being entertained and that is how close I get to cinema & music. Music, I have learnt, is independent of language, it only needs to touch your soul. Apart from that I can't tell much.

Thus, while claiming to be no expert, I believe that if you have spent 20-plus years on this planet, you surely know something about the most popular things around. You would have some hint of what goes on this multilingual, multidimensional, cultural potpourri of a country. Wouldn't you?
That is when it hit me.

Most of us spend our lives skimming through things. Getting things done. Just like newspapers. You read a couple of headlines on each page and if something really catches your attention, maybe you read it or skip it anyways. If you need it, you can Google it!

In short, we live myopic lives. We only care about what we really think might matter to us. If it doesn't, its irrelevant. Where is the time anyways?

There is more to life than just living it. If we have Internet today, if we can commute to work, get our paychecks and food on the table, everything is alright with the world. We don't care about how traders in our very own city were on strike for over a month - not till we couldn't get what we wanted. If we got what we needed, we shrugged our shoulders and moved on. We didn't raise voices with them or stand by them. We didn't ask questions about how the media that can repeatedly show pictures of alien cows could find no time to show how alienated the city's streets got. We didn't ask questions to our over-inquisitive, finger- pointing journalists why they didn't have any questions to ask this time. We didn't do anything.
As long as our myopic lens saw self fulfillment, the world can go to hell.

Somewhere along the line, I have come to respect countries like Tunisia, Egypt and now Istanbul - simply for their people. Even as I write this, people are collecting at the center of the country to demand what they believe is their right. While I can't tell you if is good and who out of the government and people are correct, I can tell that the people care and have not gone totally myopic. If they feel their children need a garden to play in, they walk towards it and fight for it. Maybe they are right, maybe they are not.

Social media has been the winner with Jasmine Revolution and Arab Spring. The idea is to be able to connect with the world outside.See the bigger picture. Bring power back to where it belongs - in the hands of the people.
However, while our technology keeps getting smarter, we seem to know lesser everyday. While we upgrade to 3G, in reality we connect lesser. Our TV screen is larger and sounds clearer but, thanks to our mental myopia, our hearts are smaller. We love less. Mainly, we only love ourselves.

Which brings me back to - why are we myopic after all? Do we really believe that we don't need to know? Or is it window through which we say, it will never happen to us? The bigger question is why do we not choose to see? What is so wrong with seeing the bigger and real picture?

What can be done to break this self-made barrier that stops you from being everything you can be? Why the mental myopia?