Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Invisible Glasses

My exceptionally tall friend was on the phone, giggling in embarrassment, "Dude, Modi just killed it man." He hated Narendra Modi, who was winning the elections with the greatest majority in the history of India that day.

"The thing on everyone's agenda today at office is to pass some sarcastic comments at me or within hearing distance from me. I didn't know so many people work here man." He was open and loud about his hatred for Modi and his preference for AAP. Although he expected Modi to win, the margin was just too much for him to bear.

The Godhra riots of 2002 is synonymous with Modi. Its the first thing that comes to mind when you hear his name, all around the world. My friend's hatred for Modi originates from this. Some time after the riots, one of his friend's father who was in the Gujarat police force at the time, had told him something to hint that Mr. Modi was indeed at fault. These words had formed such a strong picture of Modi for him that even though the person had not given any proof for his accusation, in my friend's mind that became the truth.

Casually browsing youtube, i chanced to come across this video of a TV interview of Narendra Modi just before the election. I was impressed by the way he spoke and presented himself. Although I'm aware of the riots, I haven't gone into the details and have not heard many people's opinion on the matter. So for me, it is just something I'm not sure about. Soon after the video was over, I glanced at the side pane and found some suggested videos and checked them too. A few videos in, I noticed that all the videos suggested to me were against the other parties contesting the elections and a few of them praising the BJP. I became a Modi supporter. A few hours of such browsing can completely change your opinion and preference on a subject, and this preference is not formed based on facts but on the representation of facts.

My friend does not know the real facts about the riot, the other person had merely presented some facts in such a way to impose his opinion on my friend. This happens all the time. To a point where, people get away with mixing a bit of lies in the presentation. For instance, in an election rally or an interview like the one I watched, politicians constantly give out some figures and infer that they are better than the opposition. But at the end of the interview does anyone go back and check if the figures are right? Or if the figures actually represent what the person inferred? The facts do not remain in your mind. What remains is an impression.

And it is rightly said that the first impression is the best impression. Because once you form a good impression about a party, you believe everything they say and claim that the opposition is lying. Once you form an opinion that a person is stupid or dumb, everything he says or does seems to resonate with your opinion, when in reality you do pretty much the same stuff yourself. The best part is that we never realise that our thoughts and opinions are being controlled. Makes me wonder if i really did chance upon that interview or was led there without my knowledge.

All these election campaigns, product advertisements, gossips, movies etc, influence our minds to such a great extent. We make so many decisions in our life not based on the truth but based on what we are told is true. You will always think your detergent brand is the best even though you haven't tried them all. Why should you test your theory, when actors in lab coats constantly come on television and tell you that they have done that? The other day, I saw this surf excel ad telling me that it has vibrating molecules which remove dirt. And initially the ad for Tang said that it has real fruit, and now it says it has the taste of real fruit. Don't get me started on the names they give to things they put in fairness creams.

So next time you feel hatred or love or any strong feeling towards a person, try to stop yourself and force your mind to feel the opposite. Give the bad guy the benefit of doubt. Assume that he may indeed be good and you're just not able to see it.

I have tried it and failed.

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