The Elitism In Choice

Author’s note: It is very hypocritical of me to write this article because I myself am not immune to the habits I’m criticizing here; the sole purpose of this post is just to give a thought to what we’re doing. Hope you like it.

Choices, we all have them. They are part of our personal life and an extension of our personality. From what we do for recreation to what we like to eat to what we find attractive in someone else.

It is therefore, unsurprising that people can be fiercely protective about them and only reveal them to someone really, really close to them because criticism or ridicule of our choice is by extension a mockery of our person. And no one wants that.

Our choices are invariably the greatest way to start a conversation. It may sound clichéd but there is truth in how an inadvertent revelation about one’s likes instantly draws the attention of a near stranger and a glorious bonding begins. Most of the time, this is exactly how I have ended up interacting with someone.

This however, has it’s limits. Because each choice we have in common will eventually diverge. For example, if I happen to encounter a person who enjoys watching TV, our commonality might end there itself because that person has a liking for thrillers while I have a preference for slapstick comedy.

This however is natural human behaviour, each of us is unique and so would be our choices. What is not natural, however is for me to chide my friend for their choice to watch something that’s is going to give a headache or for them to dismiss my preferences as mediocre and unintellectual.

Consider another example, the outgoing people in your social circles are probably not very receptive of the idea of you being a binge watcher on weekends, they’d rather you go out with them to a watering hole, to ‘have a life.’ Or you looking down on a colleague just because they are not into reading and assuming them to be shallow idiots. The list goes on and on. And even within each of these examples are further points of divergence.

If you think about it, even the awards be it the Oscars, Emmy’s and Booker’s are nothing but a group of higher placed people dictating what our tastes should be. So while we may like the humble ‘Jingle All The Way,’ or ‘Piranha 3D’ someone will run down your choice and recommend a Christopher Nolan film.

Locally speaking we all have at some point in our lives mocked our parents’ liking for daily soaps( ‘saas-bahu serials’ ) and they in turn have chided our liking for ‘indecent Hollywood stuff.’

This elitism is seen even in forums. I speak from personal experience here. I am a fan of anime (Japanese animation) and because anime fans are hard to find in person in India, I thought of joining an online group. Initially I was happy, but ultimately I was put off by members criticizing my choices as pedestrian; drawing a line between the ‘critically acclaimed real shows’ and ‘commercial garbage.’ Needless to say my participation in that group has been limited to liking posts and giving once in a blue moon comments. So much for bonding over common interests.

But believing in the uniqueness of every human, shouldn’t the recommendation of any elite be on the same level as any random stranger we meet?

It is just one aspect of people judging us and the solution for this specific problem is the same as that for the broader one: respect other people’s opinions and but live a life on your own terms.

So the next time you here of someone liking something you deplore, think about it; there is little you can do about it, morally speaking (even though you’re cringing internally).

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