Of course I have my own things to rant about -sloppy Tamil in advertisements, to name one. But I never ever find myself arguing with a columnist/blogger too much about the point he makes. Making fun behind his back - sure, count me in. Arguing/confronting - no.
The way I see it: a columnist/reviewer is opining under a deadline. ANY sense that he can make, ANY insight he can generate is a bonus for me; because I see it is a bonus for him in the first place.
People just write what occurs to them. They like the way a line rolls out, stick to it, form opinions based on it, change the proportions and emphasis of their points based on how well it sounds. I assume this happens more often than the other way round. An accretion of observations, layer upon layer builds a point of view - eventually builds a personality. That's about it.
And I also assume enough people would have come to know about it (now that everyone and his cousin writes). But still these arguments happen! Are my assumptions wrong? Do most people still possess (and thus expect) the talent to make words submit to their designs of making certain points. It baffles me. As you will see shortly, this post will take some undisciplined turns away from where we are now. Or not.
Perhaps (my shorthand for- all of what follows just happened to occur to me; any resemblance to truth is purely incidental) this is symptomatic of my general indifference to quality.
I never demand excellence/efficiency when it is completely up to me. The operative word is 'completely' - think about it, there are very few things/issues in life, which are up to you alone.
In fact it bothers me when someone has put in a lot of work/effort to get something done for my sake. And it is not just the reciprocal obligations that worry me. It is the mere fact that someone had to work hard at something for me.
Another clarification: this is not to say I don't like good things. Of course I do. That is precisely why I generally don't advertise my indifference, as it leads to adverse select.
Just that I don't insist on quality and rail if I don't get it. The operating principle is the simple, good old: do unto others etc. Life, viewed as a series of efforts dedicated to 'making things better' in some way, is a phrase I find suffocating to type.
I don't believe many have thought through the cosmic interconnectedness of it. Either that or they are are all striving for excellence. This makes their rants look like: 'hey I am doing my part, you better pull up your socks'. I'd much rather believe many of them are thinking 'I will question you regardless of whether I have the moral right to do so'. The latter is a more reassuring view of humanity in general. Makes me feel more generous. But I am not sure if many people really think so.
I feel distant from all the people who are annoyed with bad customer service, trash on the road, corruption and what not. I gripe more about the general decline of courtesy and politeness, which I slyly classify as an outcome of the drive for efficiency.
I keep coming back to how deeply 'the concept of deserving' has been written into us. Beyond the occasional musing, most of us are incapable of embracing the complete randomness of it all. Expectations of fairness, whys, 'emptiness without a sense of accomplishment'- can all be traced to doing your bit and expecting others to do so.
The context of the debate could be politics, social contracts or it could be relationships.
Or it could be pointing out the imprecision of some poor soul who is nurturing his ego (and most certainly deceiving himself by simply being oblivious to his condition) by airing flimsy opinions with a superficial glib charm. Why would you bother slicing through it!?
POLONIUS: My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
HAMLET: God's bodykins, man, much better: use every man after his desert, and who should 'scape whipping? Use them after your own honour and dignity: the less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty.
If you disagree with me, you know what to do.