Decoding a life lived for the society

Society is a beautiful institution. It gives you a ready horde of people to associate with, attach with, connect with, bond with, liaison with, confirm with and comply with. It makes rules so that you know what to do when. It creates boundaries so that you remain safely within. It suggests decisional alternatives so that you do what is right. It delineates the wrong from the right so that you do not attempt what is not accepted.

But then there are always flipsides when you operate in an area where everything has already been etched out. The rules it creates become norms that you have to abide by even when you don’t want to. The boundaries it makes become barriers that do not let you unleash what truly lies within you on a lot of occasions. The alternatives it suggests become finalities it imposes on you, that make you feel like you can not expect to live like an intelligent individual. The wrongs it delineates become things which it considers taboo or non-virtuous and evil and you never even get a chance to get to know what they were to be so non-virtuous.

So, you do not take up photography because that is one thing you can at the most do in your free time, and definitely not as a full time career (eyebrows raised). You do not talk to certain people in the class because they are not considered ‘right’ by your relatives. You do not open your eyes to some religious beliefs because obviously your religion is the best, it is more than a way of life and it has possible become for you an absolute body of right and wrong, true and false, black and white. You also do not wear certain clothes, say certain words, read certain books, and do many other certain such things which would have certainly been on your wish-list had the ‘institution’ of society not taken it upon itself to decide what’s right or wrong for you.

And then you ‘do’ a lot of things which as a good member of the good society, you are expected to do. So you grow up as a ‘good’ son who respects his ‘good’ parents, runs their ‘good’ business when eighteen, marries a ‘good’ girl they like (who bows her head and behaves in a ‘good’ manner in front of the any form of ‘the institution’ that has personified itself to inspect her) and leads a good life that society proudly adds to its success story. A slightly more ‘good’ version could be if he goes to Amarika to get a ‘good’ degree which gets him a ‘good’ job and which makes his old parents prized jewels for the society back home. They use all possible opportunities to declare how ‘good’ the apple (of their eyes) has been and make occasional trips across the seven seas to show what a success their life is.

Or you grow up as a ‘good’ daughter, study to get ‘good’ grades, wait to be found eligible for marriage by the beatific society and nod your head for what it thinks is right for you. You could also go a ‘good’ school, get ‘good’ education, go to a ‘good’ college, get a ‘good’ degree again, with most remaining steps being more or less the same – going to a ‘good’ organization, working like a ‘good’ employee, and then going to the marriage circus, finding a ‘good’ spouse, rearing some ‘good’ children, sending them to ‘good’ schools and ‘good colleges’ for ‘good’ educations and degrees and dieing believing you’ve led an essentially ‘good’ life. Phew!

If you somewhere in between developed a desire to sing/dance/paint/draw/write/act/talk/ or any other form of physical distortion, then you need to get prepared to fight battles that might put the Spartans to shame. Why? Well, the society doesn’t think it fit. Or rather ‘good’. Isn’t that simple to understand? It asks you if your parents have a packet stashed up that they can back you up with. You say yes and it laps you up, shows you the way and lets you make some mistakes. If you come back after messing it all up, it smirks quietly and throws you back to your air-kissing, Prada sporting rich parents where you gradually fit into a grind.

But if your answer about the bomb of money was no, then you have had it. Not that it won’t present opportunities in front of you. Of course, it will. For one, it might show you scores of reality talent shows. So you can get insulted at the hands of frustrated middle-aged weirdos while you try to sing and dance without obviously knowing that you suck at it. But jokes apart, basically you go on trying to fend for yourself while battling for support from your parents (who are desperately looking at the society for approval), or your friends (who are as unguided/ tormented as you are), current established faces in your chosen loved field (and they turn out be an extremely rare find, the entire family was stuck by the society phobia anyway). And then you wait. You wait for something good to happen. For the luck to smile on you. For the tide to turn in your favor. For the society to add you in its success stories, success story achieved despite non-compliance. It doesn’t happen most of the times. It happens to probably .001% of you. The society conveniently avoids mentions of them. It mentions you while elaborating the importance of adhering and succeeding, of believing and getting rewarded.

So if you want to color your hair red, you become a hippie; if you want to travel all over the worls, you become a nomad; if you don't want to marry, you become an oddball; if you're a guy and you want to learn ballet or the piano, you become gay; if you want to fall in love at 50, you become eccentric; and so on and so forth. So after a life of rejections and disappointments, when you become parents, you tell your kids, “Society is an institution to be respected and followed.” And the kid nods his head. And lives for the society.


D said…
good outburts. You're very right...but then we also accept these 'forced choices.'
After all we want to be secure...and remain'good' all our lives!
Chitty Cat said…
sorry to say this - but ur post is very cliched

ive colored my hair red thrice - and even old grandmas in their kanjeevaram sares have told me it looks good. Only cos they are also smart enough to know that my 'goodness' aint got nothing to do with my hair color or my multiple body piercings (which i do not have but am illustrating as an example) - only cos they judge my 'goodness' by the way I greet them or talk to them.

Times are a'changing - perhaps its us young people who do not want to accept it :)

All i have to say is - for all those who think 'society' is a big bad curse - leave it - and let me know if you survived ;)
Trevor Penn said…
I wonder what instigated this rant.

IMHO, the institution called society and the "wisdom" of the ages is built on precedence. It does change with time but it struggles to keep pace with the jet age.

It provides a conformal individual a safety net whilst the radical/eccentric/revolutionary thinker/do-er/go-getter has to prepare for unforseen consequences.

Fewer things are taboo today than they were yesterday. It's my perception that stigma and fear of consequences are a far greater hamper than society is/can ever be.

just my 2 cents. :)
Endevourme said…
dont bother abt rest of the comments! i luved the post :D!!
keep going!
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
the beatnik post! didn't i add just another label to your hippie, nomad list.. ?? :)

it's true, and conformity to the set standards is what everyone wants or else you become the oddball, rightly said.
Canary said…
I guess desire for security stems out of some past impressions, what say?

Thanks for dropping by! Well the post is based on some of my observations around me... and I loved reading your opinions on it!

Instances around instigated I guess, plus I wanted to give everyone interested enough to read some food for thought...

Hehe! Thanks!


too many oddballs make the world an interesting place to live! :)
backpakker said…
Ive never toed society's rules ..but Im not a rebel either..

Jyoti said…
if you dont like anything, stand up and object because you are going to make and contribute to society.

Grow yourself so strong in present situation that you can afford to change what you do not like.
Canary said…
I guess I fall in that bracket too!

well said Jyoti, interesting perspective..
Canary said…
I guess I fall in that bracket too!

well said Jyoti, interesting perspective..
Phoenix said…
That's just why I hate the "should" word!
abhas1 said…
I guess by the time everyone finds out that we should've been doing what we wanted, it's too late.

Nice post :)
Canary said…

very true.. :)
Divya said…
Over-consciousness. Societal pressure. Need for acceptance. All nicely wrapped up in this. I agree totally with u... And it sucks...
Nice post..

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