• Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023
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OP-ED: Small minds discuss people

  • Published at 07:22 pm August 31st, 2021

Why do we neglect the real issues and gravitate towards cheap gossip?

Eleanor Roosevelt, who served as the first lady of the United States from 1933 to 1945, once said: “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” This quote has turned out to be quite a gem, and so relevant in our context, as nothing could define the nature of our fellow countrymen more aptly than these words. 

In the light of the recent happenings and how netizens and denizens are reacting to them, it can be deduced beyond a shadow of a doubt that we stand and live for the last part of this quote -- small minds discuss people. The recent fiasco involving Pori Moni and a police officer is a glaring example of this parochial mindset, which cross-sections of people are actually nourishing inside them.    

It seems like we are always looking for any opportunity to jump on the blabbering bandwagon, encompassing dirty gossip and character assassination. Some quarters are always discussing people, whereas some go so far as to take these discussions to TV talk shows.

Just a few days ago, people were discussing Nasir, who was accused of assaulting a renowned actress. After that, Helena Jahangir was in the limelight, and of late, Pori Moni has been sending ripples through all echelons of society. If you log into any social networking site, you will see how people are wasting time by coming up with their misogynistic and farcical insights. Almost overnight, the Pori Moni incident and a video portraying her torrid romance with a police officer became a cause célèbre.      

Interestingly enough, this kind of juicy incident sprouts up at regular intervals in our country. There can be two reasons. 

First, this is a mere trick to sweep more pressing issues under the rug. That’s why this type of incident always surfaces when some other serious issue is supposed to make headlines. At a time when people are dying in scores due to coronavirus, the health sector is grappling with a myriad of pressing issues, and the number of dengue patients is inching up, these silly incidents are making rounds on social media. It’s silly because there is nothing new about a new-generation celebrity taking drugs and consuming liquor in our country. 

Everyone knows about the lavish lifestyle they lead (especially the heroines and models), and the extravagant parties they attend; still, people are getting involved in juicy gossip and bringing these elements into focus. It points to the smallness of our minds, and says a great deal about how good we are at remaining occupied with such cheap matters. 

Second, the government and the media (online portals to be particular) seem all too serious about the mental health of citizens. To be a bit sarcastic: As the pandemic, accompanied by increased level of economic and mental stress, has aggravated the mental condition of most of us, they seem determined to reinvigorate us by providing some gossip, to provide laughter in these gloomy days. 

Whether you admit it or not, these incidents offer comic relief to cheap minds -- even sometimes average minds -- at such a restless time.   

We have very few people who are actually interested in throwing light on more pressing issues, understanding the intention behind an orchestrated event, putting the finger on what’s wrong with our behaviour, seeing beyond what’s visible to the naked eye, and figuring out solutions to help society and the country. 

The country is going through a terrible phase -- schools have been closed for 17 long months, a staggering number of people have been pushed into “new poor” status, showing that people’s economic conditions are deteriorating. Oppression against women, further compounded by the pandemic, is on the rise. Instead of talking about these things and looking for solutions to iron out these problems, we are deriving cheap fun from mindless things. 

This happens when a society loses sight of its goals. During our Liberation War, we fought against the oppressive Pakistani rulers to establish a just and fair society. Men and women fought shoulder to shoulder in their own ways. But we are back to a square one. We could not establish a just society, because men are now more eager to establish their supremacy over women, bureaucrats are more eager to bend things in their favour instead of working towards creating a fair society, and the wealthy, arrogant elite are more eager to grind down an increasingly desperate working class instead of catalyzing economic balance in society. 

Instead of following greater purposes, we have settled for pettier causes. That’s why society has immersed itself in things that simply entertain. In a society like ours, infected with lots of incurable issues, it’s expected that people will lean towards something as trivial as Pori Moni’s celebration of a cop’s birthday.      

Morshedul Alam Mohabat is a communications professional.

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