Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My defence against being different

This notion of being different, I notice, has gained mass popularity amongst GenX/Y/Z/iGen or whatever it is being called these days. So much so, that the impetus behind a lot of actions that the youth around me embarks on is provided solely by the motivation to be different, to appear distinctively from the norm. Being different, as such, is misunderstood by many as the path that will lead to higher platforms. The character of backing your instincts to follow your dreams even if it takes you away from the well worn path, is truly wonderful and appreciable. But clear distinction must me made between this virtue and that of purposely rejecting a path because it is well worn and doing something out of the box for the sake of being different. Unfortunately, it is this brand of 'being different', that has found widespread acceptance.

To clearly express my defence against it, I must first state the argument of those for it. I am often told, and often I read about the remarkable success of some distinguished personalities based upon how different they were. And it makes me crazy - firstly the immature analysis behind such statements and secondly the silly instant acceptance of it. That people like Edison, Einstein, or even Steve Jobs were and are great men is absolutely true. And so is the fact that they were different. And so is the fact that this difference was what put them so distinctly ahead. But to conclude from this 'to be great, be different' is as immature as saying that the Silicon Valley will do great business this year since guavas had a good yield last year in Orrisa. So to say, it makes no sense. True that they were different, but if difference was all there was to it, then even the drunkard who drinks all day on the road should be great on the grounds of being different. Precisely speaking, it wasn't the existence of a difference that mattered, but what that difference actually was, an intricacy often ignored in today's glossy reporting. Its not about whether you are different from the others, its about what is it that sets you apart. If being different in itself was a criterion then everyone should have had some claim to prominence, since no two individuals are ever identical. So when I see people with their usernames that read like Name - be different, or XYZ - not in the norm, minor concerns arise in my consciousness as to whether this person actually understood the meaning behind it or got carried away by some irresponsible but fascinating portrayal of the same.

That this concern is not completely unwarranted, is certain. How else can one explain the fact that people, young educated guys and girls from cities like Delhi and Mumbai, are part of online communities that Hail Hitler, those which say Dawood Ibrahim is a genius, and those which say Secularism sucks. Perhaps a minute percentage of their members truly believe in these ideas (that no one with a sound brain would), but to believe that all of them actually endorse such ideas after a well thought internal deliberation, defies all common sense. It is very clear, that the desire to 'appear' different propels a majority of such apparently rebellious memberships.

On a lighter and different note, am I wrong in assuming that 'different' is one of the most inappropriately and overused words in the English language? All across Orkut, I see testimonials and about-me's that claim the person to be such a 'different' person, that it makes me wonder if ninety percent of the people are 'different', then what's different about being different.

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