Thursday, May 29, 2014

ROFL, HMMM and LOL don’t work offline

A week ago, I packed all my personal stuff, bade adieu to a couple of friends and left the organisation, where I pursued my dreams for about one and a half years. While I wasn’t emotional, it occurred to me that my colleagues couldn’t find a minute to move away from their desks to send me off. Their ‘bye’ sounded like ‘see you tomorrow’. Blame it on their unreasonable amount of workload or the acute pressure to meet deadlines, but as I walked out I realised that humans are slowly forgetting to be humane. Going by the way we choose to react and we choose to ignore, it implies that we have reached that ultimate point where we belittle everything that doesn’t concern us.

We might believe that we have broadened our views on everything under the sun. But the more I go out and meet people, I learn how gleefully we bask in our own delusions. The more number of open conversations that I have, I realise how much we lag behind. From all the good and the not-so-good folks I have met, I understand that humans don’t try hard to be empathetic for we are incorrigibly obsessed with our own passion and problems. In this world, where being ruthlessly competitive and self-centered are hailed, perhaps, it’s too idealistic of me to expect empathy to be considered a virtue. Although I’m sane enough to recognise that every human being is bogged down by myriad of challenges, is it too much to ask for people to make genuine efforts to listen, respond and make an attempt to see through others’ minds?

One of my pets was severely ill and I walked up to my boss to request permission to leave early. With his eyes fixed on his computer monitor, he said, “You finish your work and then leave!” Quite expectedly, he didn’t turn to see what my reaction was. I didn’t expect him to empty his Kleenex with me nor did I want him to let me go without posing another question. All that I wanted from him were two ears that could take in information.  For a girl, who made ends meet with the peanuts that were given by those multinationals, I feared leaving work without completing my tasks, although I wanted to be with my furbaby. For him it was just a dog. But to me, he was my sibling. And every heartless imbecile like him taught me how imperative it is to be empathetic even in times when I really don’t see what others see and how I could come across as a person with fine sensibilities, if I make that dash of effort to listen and understand regardless of my state.

If that was a simple example of how people love living in their islands and severe real communication, then comes the art of conversation. I am flabbergasted about how mindlessly, from our best friends to our recently won acquaintances, lack the skills to exchanges words, in its real sense. The  kind of conversations that we have these days are futile. Our dialogues aren’t really dialogues. Our exchanges have become lifeless and are mostly infested with ‘I’ and ‘my’. If our discussions are filled with songs about ourselves, then it is needless to mention that we have lost out on humility too. Despite spending massive amount of time on social networking websites, where we chat away to glory, where we are bombarded with information, where we are constantly exchanging and expressing views, where we learn some of our crucial life lessons, it looks like we haven’t begun to learn the art of conversation and being empathetic for we haven’t learned that our ROFL, HMMM and LOL don’t work offline. In times like these, when I struggle to cope with all the ‘I’ that is thrown at me (no offence to Ayn Rand), I think of what Harper Lee wrote in To Kill a Mockingbird – “Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in.”

While we are constantly making friends (virtual and real), we must also realise that there are a lot of tiny, beautiful things that help to form friendships. Although those elements seem trivial, they are complex enough to sabotage harmony. Building a healthy relationship is not as simple as ‘liking’ or writing comforting comments on Facebook, but it is also about learning to be tactful and well disposed.