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  • Writer's picturesrikant-sharma

Generics And Its Damaging Impact

Updated: May 5, 2020

Well if you are expecting this to be an article encouraging countries to prohibit use of generic medicines or hoping it to be something related to field of medicine, I regret to disappoint you right up front. This article is all about perilous use of generics…‘Generic Statements’. Yes you heard it right and it’s the same generic statement, which each one of us would have certainly used to save ourselves from a difficult situation or to make a point which we have no clue if it will hold ground through scrutiny of facts. During span of a regular day, willingly or unwillingly, we either end up saying statements like “he is an idiot” or “Trust me, you are wrong”, or end up hearing one from someone within our circle of acquaintances. While I have been contemplating to write on this subject for quite some time, a short conversation with my colleagues made me throw away furry coat of laziness and start voicing. During our online chat, one of them made a statement “this government is against educational institution” and when it was asked to specify examples on why he opines so, reply which came was both interesting and annoying at the same time… he replied “ohh… so you guys are discussing something serious, in that case I will read on the topic and come back again”.

This is nothing to single out any individual, we have been so used to hearing and using these statements that we no longer find them offensive or derogatory. It requires some soul searching to even think why we or anyone else go down this route… and as stated earlier, I have given enough time on this subject to share my point of view. Generic statements can be broadly classified among three categories… absence of interest, absence of research and  absence of facts. While I can’t argue that aforementioned is an exhaustive list of possible classifications, yet makes it easier for me to carry forward this discussion on why we end up being part of this flourishing  yet damaging culture of using generic statements. While nomenclature of classifications are self-explanatory, will take few minutes to brief each one of them… absence of interest are those which are used by individuals who, as a result of societal pressure, have found themselves among a group wherein they can’t shout out loud that “hey… can we please change the topic” yet have been singled out by others to speak up or have been completely devoid of their presence. So these individuals just take few minutes or seconds to make up one statement and hurl it down for discussion, hoping no one will pick them up for clarification. Thus achieving their objective of making their meaningless presence known to the group.

Then comes the second category, which belongs to those who are too lazy to put in efforts to support whatever they want to speak about. Given the premise they end up speaking out their mind with knowledge limited to cubic centimetre area that their brain occupies…literally. Unlike those uninterested in the conversation, these champions of random generic statements are truly interested in the discussion, yet are not inclined to make use of gigabytes of knowledge available at their fingertips. Facts put forward by these individuals are as predictable and reliable as outcome of a coin toss, it could fall flat on any face without knowledge of protagonist speaking it. And then come the legendary ones, those who don’t have facts to prove their point, yet they just hop on to this ship of making generic statements and hope to sail through. I call them legendary since they aren’t the ones lazy enough not to research on facts and neither are they among those who are not interested in the conversation… rather they are the ones who are well aware of lack of fact and yet choose to keep walking on sticky ground, hoping generic statements will carry them through. Their thought behind using generic is pretty simple… ‘One may counter fact or specifics… so let us use none of it so that no one can counter us’. While delivery mechanism used could range from a refreshing smile to a stern look, yet intent always remains same – confute truth using Generics.

All this may sound so harmless and one may tend to feel why to worry at all. Well my friend… while each one of us may have used it as means to achieve our respective objectives, however small or big they may be, yet to understand magnitude of its impact we need to go through few instances of generic statements used by different individuals. How often we have come across statements such as “you always do this..” or “this business plan is destined to fail” each one of them being said without any iota of explanation why the speaker believes so. Well I won’t make the same gaffe and will take up these statements under three categories based on their usage in corporates, in politics and those made by individuals within four walls of their respective homes.

The word corporate brings image of smart individuals well suited, attending meetings and making reasonable arguments to win over deals. Well, having worked in various industries for over a decade, I can certainly vouch for the fact that corporate meetings, irrespective of nature of industry or seniority of members attending these, often turns out to be battle ground for using generic statements. Having been part of multiple such meetings, I must say, not only its common to make generic statements in such meetings it’s also common for others to discuss and argue such statements in equal measures. For instance, in any corporate performance review meetings,  it is common for those from sales and marketing to defend themselves using such statements. If you have ever been part of any of such meetings you would have surely heard sales team saying…“we have increased our efforts and sales team is performing at its best” and those from marketing saying “our product visibility has improved manifold and consumers now want to buy more of our product”… for those who have not attended such meetings, just imagine all this being discussed without mentioning any point of reference. Under corporate culture, most of the companies follows top-down approach and hence it’s important for those leading to be more specific and less generic. Over time I have heard multiple instances where entire company strategy has been designed on a single statement made by such leaders. These statements could be as generic as “I feel unit X will be better for sales numbers” and believe it or not entire company machinery gets on mission mode to turn his feeling into a reality… I have personally witnessed situations where large deals/projects have been dropped simply on account of senior individuals saying ‘I have my doubts’ and those below couldn’t muster enough courage to delve further in details and question specific reason behind these doubts.

While categorising, most of the politicians will fall in category where they either don’t know the fact or despite knowing facts they just choose to stand by comments which are against their opposition and this holds ground across countries and parties. All across the globe, it’s common to hear opposition leaders saying that “current government is against poor” or “they have done nothing for society at large”. Well, if these sound familiar then you are still living on this planet Earth and can breathe a sigh of relief. You see irony is not when politicians use such statements, rather I would be surprised if after making such statements they come up with facts why they believe so. It is so normal for opposition to say that current govt is against the classes where voting numbers are most to be gained and those running the government to say that previous government did all the mess, neither of them able to present specifics. While two individuals speaking and arguing using generic statements have limited consequences, a politician making such statements to masses is perfect recipe for disaster, as leaders speaking generic motivates others to follow their trails. Many a time you would have noticed during televised debates, representatives of political parties come across sounding illogical, leaving us wondering how did he arrive at this conclusion. While for those with reasonable minds it would seem absurd to surrender their own intellect  just to accept representative’s irrational statements. Yet given politician’s impressive ability to articulate thoughts and shout over the top of their voice, they successfully end up pushing their agenda to the masses. Thanks to politician’s large following and equally ignorant masses across the globe, making statements without reasoning becomes fashion and spreads across like a wild fire to showcase who is biggest illiterate of all.

I think I have saved the best and most dangerous for the last… those used within four walls of a house. While such generic statements doesn’t impact society at large yet they can never be underestimated for its direct impacts. While most of us don’t share what happens within four walls of our home with public at large, yet based on my conversation with friends and acquaintances it is safe to say no family is an exception here. While we all try to be reasonable, yet intention to win an argument or even to create one takes control of our tiny brain. This intent makes us use generic statements like “you don’t care for family” and “you never do what is asked”. While you would be imagining this to be argument between couples, these could also be statement of parents to their young adults.  Family is group of individuals bonded together by blood or love and hence usually feel more comfortable in speaking their heart out. Often this comfort results in false entitlement of authority and correlation between emotions in heart and facts prevalent in mind vanishes. Discussions between two members usually end up in arguments and more often than not we find one of them not even able to remember reason for the argument. Well, neurons in brain cells are limited hence they tend to remember specifics and skip generics, now we can’t put brains at fault for this prioritisation. Not that using of specifics would avoid all arguments, yet chances are more to have a constructive discussion. More dangerous are those conversations wherein individual earnestly believe that they are talking specifics while making a statement and those listening consider them to be generics. So no wonder, speaker gets agitated on ignorant nature of listener, who keeps pondering why the irritation. Hence clarifications are necessary to help individuals (young or adult) understand where exactly they went wrong rather than questioning their entire existence.

It’s not always that Generics are so detrimental, if used to avoid an argument these statements are blessings. How many times you have noticed you are making a point and have so much to contribute to validate and the one listening simply says I agree and moves on… This may sound unfortunate if you are the speaker, yet consider yourself on the other side and its blissful. The speaker is speaking irrational and all you need to say “I agree” and its over… now everyone can go back to their lives and priorities. Also at times our fast paced lifestyle necessarily demands use of such generic statements, as when asked to join for a cup of coffee an individual is not expected to share his or her entire work schedule and a simple generic “I am busy” works fine. We may not be smartest to know when to shut, yet I fail to believe that smartest creature alive on this planet is dumb enough to continue defending arguments without specifics but with Generics.

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