Thursday, February 25, 2016

Of bragging and the social phenomenon it has become

There was a time once when bragging used to be seen as bad manners.  People believed that it could cause others to feel hurt or envious that their fortune was not as great as yours.  This happened because it was a generally held belief that no matter the amount of hard work or talent that you have, nothing really happens in a major fashion unless destiny dictates that it happen.  For e.g. what difference is there between the child who gets 98.6 and 98.7 - can you really say that the child who has got a score of 98.7 is that much more smarter or exceptional compared to the child who has got 98.6?  But the child who got 98.7 could get admission into a medical college if that were the right cut off - he could end up becoming the doctor.  The child with 98.6 would not become the doctor, he would have to choose to do something else.  So destiny plays a major role in the direction our lives take.
But of late, it's become so fashionable to constantly brag.  You always want to write about your child's achievements - whether it's a dance they performed in, a show n tell they performed fabulously at, an olympiad they won a prize for and the list goes on and on.  And if you child, by God's grace seemed to be talented at all of these things, it would be really difficult to find the anchor to keep you from floating away into the sky.
Being a parent of young children means that I have many friends on facebook and whatsapp that are in the same age group that I am in.  And since I am in India, that means that most of my friends are also parents of young kids.  It's a dog-eat-dog world, this world of parents.  Parents are constantly posting pictures of certificates that their children won, sharing pictures of children's art, children wearing medals they have won or holding aloft cups and beaming.  While I am all for encouraging children and giving them incentives to perform really well, do I really need to be made aware of how many prizes your child has won?  This constant sharing pressurizes the parent to push the child to achieve more just for the sake of having something share-worthy, not even for the sake of the award itself.  If you find yourself thinking about the facebook post or whatsapp share you are going to do when you just watch some art being made by your preschooler or while your preschooler is being handed over a cup, you know you are in trouble.  Make no mistake - the child is constantly aware of this pressure as well. Most kids I know are fully fluent at using their parents' smartphones and understand that the parents constantly receive pictures or information on achievements from moms' or dads' friends on the phone.  So much so that they will ask you to take a photo of them or the achievement as soon as they have one, so you can also share.  It comes to a point where the child feels really miserable when they know they can't give you something to share or feel happy about.  And then the usual talk of how winning doesn't matter, that everybody does not win at everything, blah blah etc starts sounding like real blah blah blah.  Stuff that does not really matter because if winning did not really matter, why would you celebrate it so much when the winning happened?  

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