Please Note: You can surmise the below article by answering the following question:
What does “Apologomia” mean?
If you don’t know the answer feel free to find out.
If unsuccessful in doing so, please continue reading.
“Commonness doesn’t differentiate on basis of caste, creed or gender. It only sees humanity’s collective inability to rise above the occasion as we duck under the guise by being common. It is fair & just, and as helpless as it can be.”
– A (frustrated) Common Man
Is being common a good thing? No it isn’t. Unless you were so special & privileged in your previous lives (if you believe in that sort of thing)! So special that you wished for a common life this time round. And even then it’s not that great!
And an Indian would know it better than most. After all our commonness and passive aggressive nature was the most binding fact to force us into 150 years of slavery and fight our way out of it. A common man is the one who endures without a choice till the point he can endure no more. And then he endures a little bit more! So maybe the death of the common man isn’t a bad thing. But still the question begs to be asked, how and why?
It isn’t a natural death, someone or something is killing us. The ridiculousness that you will read below is an attempt to understand this genocide of a mass thought and the perpetrator behind it. So what killed us, is the question?
Assuming everyone reading has an all time favorite movies list, is there a film on that list that’s about the common man’s revenge? The protagonist who is just like us (maybe a little bit better looking) suffers injustice and turns to the courts for help. But after getting frustrated with the inept system, he or she becomes the hero by taking the law into his own hands and sets things right!
But before the “setting-right” comes his quintessential pre-climax monologue on how the system is broken. And then the climax where justice is served vigilante style and the system is set right. On some level, while burping through colas and enjoying popcorns we bought into this premise. Either through a relatable quotient or through the situational “if it happened with me” outlook!
In reality, all of those things happen to us all the time. But unlike our protagonists, we never got down to getting our hands dirty. Back in the days, such a crisis would prompt us to walk away. In some cases, Run! Here in this rant, back in the days is both a specific timeframe (first 50 years post independence) and an individual self-evolution time frame (post when things started to matter to us).
Back in the days, the first step to being common has always been having the power to ignore. Not ignorance, but to ignore. Wilful acceptance of a situation followed by the act of turning a blind eye. Affected or not, get up and go ahead with what you were doing. “Being Common” meant a collective of someone unknown who were clueless, undermined and forgotten. Unless it was election season or they were rioted upon or struck by a natural disaster killed! That was when they were not common, they were either a vote-banks or victims or dead…
But something changed. At the turn of the century (around the early 2000s) the common man started undergoing a metamorphosis . Dubbed as “Aspirational Indians” (because the common man “aspires”), we became the perfect fodder for politicians, conglomerates and corporates. They sold us those dreams that we were so desperate to buy. But they are not to blame for our death. They did what any intelligent opportunistic person would do. Seize the opportunity and feed us the steady diet of “Hope”. And like those cute little guinea pigs who never saw the experimental syringes coming, neither did we.
Every civilisation since the the creation of society has always been divided into 2 sections, “superiors” and “inferiors”. The ones with information and the ones who got information. The premise was simple; once you had information, you can choose when, how and at what cost you want to inform others. Needless to say those with information were the superior few profiting from the inferior ones.
Which is why till 2000s, we were uninformed about almost every other national and international topic other than two things, Bollywood & Cricket. And while both have maintained their presence & reverence till date, one is soaring high and the other has been taking a metaphorical and (at times) a literal beating at times. You can’t miss the irony here, Indian movies sold themselves on the premise of telling the story of a common man, the subset of the angry masses. And today, patrons of the movie-making profession are getting heckled, bullied, threatened and beaten up by the same angry masses.
So what happened? How did decades of ineptness, insecurity and indecisiveness translate into opinions and opposition so quickly? These questions can be answered by another question. A question asked right at the top. What does “Apologomia” mean? If you have tried to “search” for its the meaning then you already know what happened?
First internet happened, then mobile phones happened, then internet met mobile phone and smartphones happened. And then, not so smart things began happening! Don’t get me wrong, I am not a regressive individual who believes that technological advancements are bad for us. Technology is essential and its advancements are for everyone. Life should be bettered because of it, life should become simpler because of it. Nations should prosper because of it and we should all be connected through it.
And so we did. We connected like never before. Heads down, fingers up!
While I do feel that technology is the right of all as much as information is, in both these cases I did hope that we would understand technology before using it and verify information before spreading it. But sadly that’s not the case, we consumed technology as they were candy-bars made of oxygen. And it in turn gave us superhero powers rendering us uncommon. It made us bullies hiding behind a web reducing information to first come first true.
We are not common anymore. We are part of a bigger agenda, in the name of progress, morality religion, popularity, beliefs, celebrities etc. But the sad part is, its not our agenda its someone else’s. We found our leaders and inspirers. They came to enlighten us through technology. Maybe because technology came to them, before it came to us. So they understood it completely. They swiftly used this technology to spread information through media platforms, app stores, influencers etc and called out to us, or the believer within us. And we responded!
We were easy bait. With decades of non-recognition and lack of information stored within us propelled us to raise our hands when someone said “you”, and when someone said “true” we believed those facts.We became hardcore. We became tolerant and intolerant. We became Gods of hiding and attacking. We urged everyone to chose sides so that the battle lines are clear. Common man divided into labels of Bhakts, Sickulars, Aaptards, Patriotic Tweeples, Nirbhayas and everything else, but common. We turned on each other, we killed our common man from within.
We are now an opinionated nation who believe that our opinions on any topic regardless of our knowledge about it or its veracity, should be put across in the fastest and the most impactful of manner. And if it isn’t agreed upon by the opposite ‘label’, well we are no longer common to quietly suffer. We shall respond either by hiding behind anonymity or by supporting those who teach these opposite ‘labels’ a lesson.
This is not an indictment towards any political party; in ruling or the opposition. This isn’t a call to wake up. If anything its a call to go back to sleep. To go back to being common, to go back to ignoring everything other than Bollywood & Cricket. But whom am I kidding; that ship has sailed so far that no GPS can track. But the death of a common man wasn’t in vain. He just became smartphone special! The good part in all this is that we are progressing. Both individually and collectively.
The sad part is we are no longer united as common men. We found our identity and in that lost our humanity that made us common. But then, who cares!