Columns

The Polar Express

It’s 8.57 p.m. as I write this and I know all too well that I would be better off studying for my less-than-two-days-away exams. But here I am. I hear the sounds of people having a party downstairs. They sound happy and cheerful. There’s a lot of singing, a bit of drunk laughter, and it’s all in good fun. Isn’t this the state we are always supposed to be in?Won’t we be at our happiest when we are laughing like that? When we let go?

In a world like ours, I think that’s easier said than done.

For the last few days, I have been plagued with outrage posts every time I’ve opened any one of my social media accounts. The topics range from offensive remarks by Mira Rajput to all the wrongdoings that festivals like Holi cause. And that’s just local news. When I open international news sites, the majority of the (often clickbait) titles have to do with the revelation of a new layer of President Trump’s craziness or the dire threat of Russia (as well as its ties with the United States). If I’m smart enough to go onto the right news sites, I may find a greater array of information and news to add to my knowledge but, I have realized that, in the past, I have mostly opted for the more accessible sources of information (read: accessible meaning anything that comes up on my Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat/Instagram feed). Yes, I realize that this is one of the weakest methods of learning anything.

Sure, I enjoy laughing at a meme or two, liking my friends’ rant statuses, or checking out photos posted by people I follow. However, more often than not, I close these applications feeling nothing but agitated. Angry, even. I read articles about feminism that polarize me to the core of morality, making me feel as if the entire world is against women. I am a feminist, yes, but I also realize that the light we are portrayed under isn’t what the actual case is. Yes, I do think Mira Rajput’s ‘..the new wave of feminism is destructive’ comment was quite uncalled for, and it angered me for a long time. But I also realize that she is a 22-year-old who has just recently entered the public limelight, someone who still doesn’t know the ropes of being an influential personality. But yet again, she is a woman and since she is for accepting other people’s choices, maybe she should put the 22-year-old brain to use and realize that sometimes leaving one’s child alone (like a puppy) is not a choice, but a necessity. However, knowing she comes from a relatively privileged life, I do not expect her to necessarily understand these ideas.

I engage in a monolog that moves back-and-forth in this very manner. Just when I think it’s okay for people to express their opinions, when I think that it’s okay for Mira to feel what she feels, that her words were maybe just phrased in the wrong manner, I read articles on the issue that make me feel like she’s one of the oppressors, like she is part of the group of people who are trying to push back the feminist movement.

But is it really so?

Why am I supposed to feel this anger, this incessant irritation, by the words of a woman who just happens to have become a public figure? Okay, so she said something that was controversial, something that I disagree with, but does that mean I am going to rip her apart for it? Is that what I’m supposed to do every time someone opposes my views? Why am I subconsciously being told what to do and feel through these posts? Why am I being emotionally drained by such things on a constant basis? 

Apart from this, I have a question that has not left my mind since the beginning fo this year: is President Trump really that much of a threat? Sure, he has passed some executive orders, one of which even prevents U.S. aids from providing any support to foundations even remotely linked to abortion. But does one not realize that a lot of his orders and pleas do not always go directly into effect? There is a procedure wherein either the Justice System or Congress has to actually accept and vote for the bill/order and then it gets implemented. President Trump gives out these orders which are reviewed and put into motion only if the other parts of the democratic body are in alignment with it.

Why is it that a lot of people don’t know this? Maybe there aren’t enough Facebook posts about it.Maybe we’ve been made to focus on how Donald Trump should be scaring us (CNBC, The Guardian, The Philly, The Washington Post, News24). Maybe the only reason we are terrified is because we have been instructed to be terrified.

Why is there an increasing sense of polarity in the mainstream social media today? Facebook’s move to filter out fake news from people’s feeds was a good step in moving towards a better understanding of the world but it really won’t be effective until we, ourselves, decide to do something about it.

I refuse to be polarized by yet another article that tells me how much of terrible person President Trump is for saying that he wants to build a wall: the proposal is now in the hands of Congress meaning my anger will be directed at someone who isn’t even in charge of the decision anymore.

Why are we being provoked with every word?

Why is it that the number of ‘clicks’ an article gets is so much more important than the content?

Why is everything suddenly becoming an us-versus-them situation?

It’s 9.42 p.m. now and, as is my habit, I scroll through a bit of my Facebook news feed for my daily dose of annoyance. It takes me lot of control to not click on the post that will tell me why ‘Holi is the worst festival that exists’. I’m so tempted. I close the tab and stare at the screen of my laptop. I feel frustrated. There really is no way to cut off from this extremization of events, is there? 

Oh look, my phone just buzzed with a news update. All aboard the Polar Express.