Around a fortnight ago, a Caferati feedback meet I was at, was disrupted by a newcomer who started shouting at all of us and attacking us for giving feedback. It was deeply unpleasant and ruined the evening for everyone else. I wrote it off as that person being the kind of anamoly that one sometimes has to encounter. Why else would someone attack a feedback group for giving feedback?
Today, I’ve just declined nearly 50 requests to join Alphabet Sambar because they don’t write. Over the past few months, we’ve been getting a lot of requests and true to our original premise, we try and welcome everyone. But we’ve been getting a lot of irrelevant messages like “Good morning, have a great day”, jokes and pictures of food that have nothing to do with writing. Do people not understand how interest groups work? This by the way, is despite the fact that Alphabet Sambar has a very clearly stated description including the sentence ‘Please consider joining only if you yourself write‘.
At most offline events I go to (social media meets, board games events, standup comedy shows, poetry events, music events, bicycling trips), there is always a sizeable number of people who have no interest in what’s going on. What’s a person who doesn’t bicycle doing on a trip? Or someone who thinks board games are boring and stupid, spending an evening where everyone is at a board?
We could crib about the general uselessness of people who only disrupt proceedings and don’t contribute. Enough has been said about desperate Indian men who only want ‘to make fransheep’. But I think there’s something larger at play.
A lot of urban Indians are desperate for companionship, a normal human need. But many of them also lack tangible hobbies, interests, ideas of their own or social skills. They mob places that other people go to, in some sort of dim hope of making connections. They don’t know what to say or what to do. Sometimes this comes through as gaucherie, sometimes it’s aggression. And it causes further animosity, politics and exclusivity with the original activity or hobby being completely lost.
Before you think I’m making a mountain out of a molehill, I’m basing this is on massive numbers of people who seem to have no reason to be at some of these events but are. Isn’t there a problem if, in a time-starved city, there are so many people just looking for ways to kill time? A hobby is a very important part of making a human being, a well-rounded one. Many of these people I encounter are well-educated and successful. But they appear to be nothing beyond their careers and their families. How is it that having an identity beyond one’s source of income is such a rare thing?
I don’t know other cities adequately but I’m told by friends and associates that it’s no different in Delhi or Bangalore. Are we making a country of people completely deficient in the vital skills of being human? Something feels terribly wrong.