Since young, we were all told to dress, eat, and talk properly when we were outside. When we go to an interview, we check a thousand times if we look professional enough, we practice our smiles to see if it is welcoming, and we try several dresses just to see which looks best to get a best first impression but do we stop to care about presenting ourselves once we get a good impression? I say no. We all play different roles in society; as kids, students, parents, friends, siblings, and professionals (whatever your profession may be), we have different equations with everyone. No, I am not talking about comfort level here. For instance, if there is a discussion going on politics and if I find out that I have an opposite view to my best friend’s, I can explain and be open to her without hesitation but I may not do the same with my colleague or a superior because there is always a degree of impression I should maintain and I cannot take a chance to ruin it especially if they can impact my career in the company. But the problem with presenting ourselves doesn’t stop here. What do I mean? Presenting ourselves is given so much importance to the extent where we all have become shallow and are failing to see reality. People can many times get away from whatever they did simply by the way they present or pretend. Do you not believe me? Let me elaborate on it for you in detail.
Most believe what they see:
Before getting into details. Let me tell you two stories
Story I: Mr. X was found dead in his apartment by the police. Police said they found the body when they had to break down the door open after his friend called the police to complain about X. People close to Mr. X said that he was stressed, depressed, and scared after he failed to answer calls of the moneylender due to loss in business. It was also found that his friend was the moneylender who gave Mr. X money and called him repeatedly and went to meet him personally when Mr. X did not respond to his calls. His friend said that he thought Mr. X was avoiding his calls so he can escape from returning the money. Police said that the crime scene and the reason for Mr. X’s death are yet to be investigated.
Story II: An innocent man was attacked by mobs when he was talking to a female friend on the street. The man was severely wounded and is now taken to the hospital by the police. Police have taken the mobs into custody and the reasons for the attack are yet to be investigated.
Did you read the stories? What was your opinion on the reasons for the death in the first story? Most people might assume that Mr. X’s death has something to do with his friend and there is a possibility of murder. Why? Because the line which says the friend thought Mr. X was escaping shows that he was furious with X and indicates a possibility of murder out of aggression whereas, in the second, the story clearly says that the man was innocent and was attacked by mobs. So, most people immediately start protesting against the incident and raise their voices for justice. But if you observe, in both situations the reasons for death and attack is yet to be investigated. Police neither confirmed it was a murder nor said the man in the second story was innocent but most assume it might be murder and fixate that the man was innocent. But wait for a second! Let me present you the same stories in a different way.
Story I: Mr. X was found dead in his apartment by the police. Police said they found the body when his friend called them to complain about X. It was found that the friend had given money to the X and called several times to get it back. When Mr. X did not respond, he went to his house to meet and talk to him personally. When no one opened the door, the friend thought that Mr. X was avoiding him and complained to the police to get his money back. After the police reached Mr. X’s apartment, they broke the door open and found him dead. People close to Mr. X said that he was facing loss in business and was stressed and depressed for several months when he started getting calls from a money lender to pay the money back. Police are investigating the scene and the reasons for his death.
Story II: A man was attacked by the pedestrians when he was found misbehaving with his female friend `on the street. The man was severely wounded and is now taken to the hospital by the police. Police were seen investigating the pedestrians and the details of the incident are yet to be revealed by the police.
See the difference? Now, what was your opinion after you read these stories? Did you not feel that Mr. X has committed suicide due to depression? Did you doubt the intentions of his friend? Or at least thought it was a possibility? No. Did I change the story or added any details? No. then what did I do? ‘I changed the order of the information presented.’ Although in both the cases I told that Mr. X had complained to police, many in the first case might assume that the friend only complained so no one would doubt him. Another difference that you can observe is that in the first case, I said Mr. X was stressed, depressed, and scared after he failed to answer the calls whereas in the second case, I mentioned he was depressed when he started getting calls. The sentence in the first case and the word ‘scared’ indicate that there might be a possibility of threat whereas in the second it clearly shows he was depressed due to loss in business. Coming to the second story, the words ‘innocent’, ‘mobs’, ‘talking’, ‘custody’, ‘pedestrians’, and ‘misbehaving’ completely changed the meaning of the scene. In the first scenario, you see most people protesting against the people attacked and in the second, you see most people supporting the attackers. Unfortunately, this is how our media and influencers are presenting their stories these days. Many are biased and they manipulate the story and twist the words to fit their agenda and people blindly believe what they see without verifying the content. I have also explained this in my previous article ‘Levels of Stupidity’.
‘If twisting the story to fit their agenda makes people manipulative, blindly following them without verifying the story makes people stupid. Are you one of those?’
Acting can make anything seem real:
Above, when I said people have become shallow that’s because they fail to see the true intentions of others. When someone says they are interested in something or support or are against on so and so cause doesn’t mean they do. For instance, awareness of mental health is growing these days. If a popular celebrity commits suicide everyone of us uploads a social media status about depression and how should people listen, care and support depressed people but when someone reaches out how many of us give a response? Very few. One can say their agenda is to bring equality but their actions may not confirm what they said. People of this kind are called hypocrites and one must realize hypocrites are good at acting. The only way to recognize these people is to carefully observe what they say. Hypocrites contradict their points. A few days ago, an activist I know posted a social media status that it is her choice to talk or not to talk about a certain topic. She said she is not obliged to talk about everything and can be selective if she wants. Well, I agree with her on this point. After few days, she posted another status which said selective activism is not real activism and one should talk about all the social issues if they are a true activist. Contradicting? Now, that’s what I meant by my hypocrisy. Most times people fail to see these contradictive points and agree with everything they say. People being able to brainwash others that they are victims when they are the guilty one is another example that shows acting can work like a gem. If a person accused another of harm and came out in the media, people immediately believe him/her. Most times if you observe people believe the person who comes out as a victim first but there is also a possibility that the person is falsely putting allegations on the other for attention, sympathy, or any other benefits but how many of us think of that as a possibility?
‘A person who truly cares about the truth listens to both sides of the story and then concludes but a person who doesn’t care about the truth and only wants to follow others or a trend comes to a conclusion listening to one side of the story. Which one do you want to be?’
Validations are everything:
This is something I observe almost everywhere. Most people aren’t objective or do not say the truth for whatever reasons. They validate or agree with everything others say to play safe or simply because it is entertaining. How many of the people you know give you objective feedback? If your answer is many then you are one of the luckiest people. Validations can make people act to any extent because they genuinely believe it. We all want to be acknowledged and accepted but if that is not done objectively i.e. if a person is not given feedback about their mistakes, they will continue to repeat them. For instance, take a person who is bad at singing, if the person is validated and encouraged to upload it online instead of objective feedback on improvement, they might end up criticized or can become a troll to many. People can also validate others if they have sympathy for others or because everyone is doing it. For example, if there is a painting on social media that is not worth the price, but if the people are commenting that it is great, many who don’t feel it is great, also reply the same only because everyone is doing it. You can observe this trend more in body positivity posts. Any body type should be accepted but many do not understand the difference between body positivity and unhealthy habits. To show that they support body positivity, many end up encouraging unhealthy lifestyles. People continue to validate such things because they sympathize with that person or simply because everyone is doing it. All this becomes a problem when the person in the picture genuinely believes everything people validate and continues to stay in the state away from reality.
‘So, where do you find yourself? As someone who gives objective feedback? Or as someone who pretends and validates everything for others?’
People can present themselves opposite to what they are or pretend to be a person who they are not. One needs to see people beyond their projections and understand the true intentions of a person especially if they are in an influential position.
Remember, ‘to listen attentively, verify carefully, and judge objectively’