Monday, November 21, 2016

You can unfriend .. but you can't hide

I was beginning to think that I won't have a seatmate and that I will enjoy all the space, when she walked to the seat adjacent to mine.

She was small--perhaps only an inch more than five feet.  And skinny.  And looked about 75 years old.  With the wrinkles around her eyes and mouth further confirming the life experiences that she has had.  She put her handbag on the seat and got ready to put the carry on in the bin above.

There was something about her that prevented me from asking whether she needed assistance placing the bag above.  She seemed so confident and sure-footed, I was certain that I would end up offending her if I asked her that.

As people get older, they hate us younger folks patronizing them.  I had a hard lesson on that even from my father.  As we were crossing the street near my parents' home, with traffic coming from left and right, I made an error--I put my arm around my father's back.  He gave me one look that made it clear that I had crossed a line.  Lesson learnt.

She sat down.  We started talking.  She was everything that I had made up in my mind.  An educated woman, who had a career and raised children, and was now doing interesting stuff in her retired life.  She had come to the country's capital for personal research work--into her family's history.  And now she was heading back home.

We talked about the recent elections, of course.  Talking about the elections has been therapeutic.  At the professional meeting, which was the reason for my travel, we found ourselves constantly talking about the election aftermath during the breaks--so much that we referred to the meeting as a group grievance counseling!

The 75-year old next to me had some interesting family stories to tell regarding the election.  In the days leading up the fateful day, her grand daughter-in-law (as she referred to her grandson's wife) unfriended her on Facebook.  Another grandson Facebook-messaged to this grandmother that she should stop messaging him because she was becoming too intense.

"You are small. And you are funny. And you talk so pleasantly.  I cannot imagine you as being harsh.  Or, do you have a dark side?," I asked her laughing all the way.

She covered her face for a second.  And then with a big grin she said, "I speak softly.  But, I am told that I carry a velvet hammer.  And I stand my ground and hold myself."

I can believe that--which is why I felt that I should not offer to help her with her bag.  She might have punched me with the velvet hammer ;)

Her reasons are no different from mine.  It is not about him claiming the other party's credentials.  It is not about the party. It is not about the ideology that bothers us.  It is about him.  He is everything abhorrent.  He is perhaps the most recognizable face for what a human being should not be.  She apparently tried to get such points across to the grandsons and the young wife, who unfriended her because of that.

I too have unfriended people on Facebook when I could not stand their virulent anti-Muslim posts. Their anti-immigration posts. Their defense of misogyny and the violent talk against women.  I went the same route that the grandma did--I tried to constructively engage with them as much as I could.  But, their posts were getting meaner and meaner and ... I finally decided not to be associated with such humans.

Taking this blog private, too, is an unfriending of the part of the world that actively defended him and voted for him.  But, both the grandma and I know that unfriending does not help.  "I am consciously looking at where I can spend my energy so that I can be of help" she said.  "Me too." I replied.  And once I sort that out, and if by then he has not clamped down on free speech, then I too will start friending the world outside.


3 comments:

Ramesh said...

A horrible "word" - unfriend. There is no such word in the Queen's English :)

Interesting, that the grandma next to you had "that" view while her grand daughter in law, had the opposite view. I though the stereotype was the other way around.

gils said...

probably she was more like taperecorder type? :D:D
un-friend still reads as un friend in tamil english :)
Every time when i've to declare that "i'm not a robot" to post the comment..you are putting the matrix doubt in mind, mister Anderson.

Sriram Khé said...

With the blog being private, I suppose I don't need the verification anymore? Let us see ... for now I have removed it ... I wonder if spammers and trolls will work their way in ;)

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