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  • Writer's picturesrikant-sharma


“Conversation should be a two-step process of speaking and listening, with an objective to understand others’ perspective and not necessarily coming to a conclusion.”

Having spent my childhood in streets of Calcutta, often dubbed as The Intellectual Capital of India, I grew up imbibing this thought. Back then, it was common sight to observe individuals sipping hot tea in earthen cups and passionately discussing various topics under the sun. However, I feel gone are the days of amicable discussions with neither any specific agenda nor any expectation of clear outcomes. As more often than not, we are now more interested in knowing which side of debate does other stand rather than knowing his or her views. Thanks to this new found love of picking sides, rational individuals who look at events through prism of objectivity and relevance, confined to that specific moment or scheme of events, are now one of many endangered species on this planet earth. And this makes it extremely intriguing to ponder on when this transition happened, what made it spread like a wild fire and change our societal structure for ever.

The Beginning

Based on experience, I won’t hesitate to comment that we have not always been so decisive and that this is more of a recent phenomenon. While zeroing in on exact time zone when this transition happened, would be difficult, yet we can certainly tie its advent with rise of internet and more specifically to that of mobile internet. In order to have a rational conversation or discussion, at least two or more individuals need to possess significant knowledge on the topic at hand. Back in days, only source of knowledge was to read journals and books, which were hard to locate at first place, let alone efforts required to read and absorb. As a result, rational arguments were left for intellectuals to conduct and rest of the society would stay comfortable listening to them either toeing the lines or confessing to inability to comment or argue.

However, with world progressing from crawling speed of dial-up internet facility on computers to extremely fast 4G & 5G facility on handphones, easy accessibility of information too grew at un-precedented pace. Reading books and journals were no longer a necessity for acquiring knowledge, rather just a hobby of dedicated few. While rest of the masses started believing in… ‘Google knows it all and that Google is in my pocket’. This placed information, and unfortunately more often than not misinformation, at fingertips of all. This ease of sharing and receiving information created a tendency among all to believe what ever pops first on their browsing page or social media feed. Information now no longer requires clearing test of authenticity, which publication houses used to perform before printing it. And thus, started a transition, wherein individuals became highly opinionated with polarized views and shunned others with divergent view, leaving no space for two different line of thoughts to survive in a single common ground.

The Spread

This evil of decisiveness has not only grown in intent rather have also spread its tentacles across several spheres of our day to day lives. While earlier it was limited to few individuals promoting political views or religious preferences, now millions are depicting the same trait and considers it to be new normal. We now expect a definitive answer from all our acquaintances, including near and dear ones. Conversation no longer includes listening but only speaking with a highly inflated sense of ego that only one perspective is right and that is ours.

While prime credit for this spread can easily be allocated to rise of internet and effortless availability of information, yet we must contemplate whether it is that simple a correlation. In my opinion – not really. Internet has not only eased dispersion of information but also created an overly inter-connected and complex societal structure, wherein, individuals in society are increasingly dependent on external approvals and no longer reliant on self views. While it started with a hope for other to validate one’s own point of view, it didn’t take long accepting social misconception that acknowledging multiple viewpoints is nothing but inability to form opinions and a weakness that should be looked down upon.

Further it turned out to be perfect case of… ‘Adversary for one - Opportunity for other’. What could have been a gentle slope of human evolution, marketing agencies and few others ensured it to be a steep down hill slope. We all are aware, how effective social media campaign has been in recent past, thanks to its direct and deep reach. This reach has unfortunately been misused by many to spread manipulative and selective information. Intentionally spoon-feeding misinformation to society at large for their own selfish gains. Making it easier for masses, reluctant to squeeze in time from their busy schedules for any research, to make and present an opinion.

The Impact

Opinions formed on solid research of scrolling through online chats and social media feeds, often requires aggressive defending. And this necessity often comes from belief that accepting other’s point of view necessarily implies declaring ourselves wrong at first place. That’s why impact of transition of this magnitude can never be exaggerated. In this case more so specifically, as it has affected the very foundation of our lives by altering the way we communicate socially. Discussions and deliberations gave way to arguments filled with prejudices. An uncanny tendency to provoke response, can be seen all across. Heated discussions in office meetings or on political battlefield are nothing new yet increase in intensity is something to be taken note of. Ego of those sitting in corner offices have been well documented by various others in past too and requires no further deliberations. However, impact of this new line of thought further fuelled this ego and as a result any divergent view is rarely appreciated.

Most rampant impact of such change in human behaviour can be easily noticed through social media trends, wherein individuals are expected to follow a particular philosophy and not rational objective ideas. You are no longer allowed to frame and express your own views on any event, not without being necessarily aligned or associated with one or the other group harbouring such line of thoughts. This basically implies that for each and every view of yours, you will be linked to left wing or right wing or considered as one representing capitalist or socialists. This line of thought tends to push others to the brink or right or wrong … black or white… day or night …leaving no concept of subjectivity or grey or any twilight for them.


Ideally objective of discussions and debates should be to put forward one’s own view and absorb those of others and not to convince others to our own views. This additional pressure of convincing others has eroded belief that there could exist another point of view. We may point out various reasons for this change, from lack of self-belief to fear of losing importance which forces individuals and societies to thrust their own point of view on others. Fact is we have stopped observing environment through our senses, we no longer view the world through open eyes. It feels as if we have got pair of binoculars affixed on our eyes, forcing us to have closer look at every event and form equally concentrated and unidimensional views. No one realises that looking out at world through a key hole restricts the wonders, which we can achieve together. We just need to open the door and provide some space for alternate views to thrive and let our mind to ponder.

I don’t want people to blindly accept what others have to offer, rather to have patience and virtue allowing others to put forward their perspective. All I wish is for society to progress in a way where we all can keep our minds open for a different point of view and be ready to accept any flaws in our own thoughts. I strongly believe that between two extremes of black and white, we need to give some space… some common ground for greys of the world to exist and prosper.

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