When France and Croatia clashed for the title of FIFA World Cup Champions in 2018, Croatia had already gone on to become a surprise front-runner, who had won hearts with every win of theirs in the tournament. Social media (in India specifically) was filled with personal anecdotes and touching stories about the struggles of Croatian players, especially Luka Modrić, their captain. I was personally rooting for Croatia, mostly because of my love for Modrić than my love for football, which I really don’t know much about. When France won the finals eventually, claiming the title yet again, it was a much-deserved win – something anyone with even a limited knowledge of football would understand. However, there were many who were crying foul, putting up posts about how France didn’t deserve the win, how they cheated their way to the title, how the Croatian team was betrayed by the match referees etc. What came out in these posts was actually a disappointment of not getting to see the “underdog” win for once. But what also came out in these posts was an unreasonable bitterness that such haters normally have for the ones who are perceived to be the opposite – successful/famous/rich.
Exactly two years ago, four apartment complexes in Cochin were demolished for violation of Coastal Regulation Zone norms following a Supreme Court order. To be honest, that was one of the very few times I witnessed our judiciary at its strongest, not bowing down or taking a step back, but determined to do what was right, without delay. Even when I knew that it was definitely the right thing to do, I didn’t have any pleasure in watching those buildings getting razed to the ground, because I was thinking only about all the people who lost their homes in a matter of seconds. What I found appalling about the whole incident was how a huge number of people were celebrating the demolition online and offline, because apparently “it serves those stinking rich jerks right!”
The apartment owners were all branded as “filthy rich”, evil villains who are enemies to those from a lower income class, trying to hide their “black money” by buying apartments in high-end apartment complexes like most of the ones demolished – in effect people who deserved what came to them. Because the idea of them being hardworking individuals who earned their money in a respectful manner, and buying a home of their own to live happily with their families like anyone else? – Not quite appealing. When I saw the buildings fall, I was thinking of how devastated I would have been if I was one of the owners. All of them bought their homes there after being shown official documents with every approval required, I’m sure, just like we did when we bought our home. But years later, when it turned out to be otherwise, they would have felt devastated too, just like any other normal person.
The haters kept saying how it was okay for these owners to be evicted because they were all rich anyway, and how their tears didn’t mean anything compared to those of all the poor people evicted for highway constructions or railroad expansions. Having to leave a home they so lovingly bought, decorated, lived in, made memories in – that is the same for anyone, whether it is a hut you are evicted from or a high-end apartment. Just because they differ in size or market value, doesn’t mean they differ in the emotions attached to them. And their tears matter, the same way anyone else’s tears matter. What right do we have to berate them and their emotions?
I have never understood this mentality of such people in having not just petty jealousy, but a kind of strong hatred towards anyone who is richer or more successful. And I am not talking about the Ambanis or Adanis here. They have a problem with anyone who is on a better footing financially than they are, and even those from professions that they perceive to be on a higher level than their own. And they generalize all of them as “the bad guys”.
When Keralites were shook to the core by a sudden series of dowry-related murders and suicides in a short span a few months ago, what filled social media were posts saying “If you send your girls to the huts of men who earn their livelihood by working hard as daily wage workers, they will only know love and joy. But you choose grooms who have a government job or ones who have more money than people like us. That’s why these girls lost their lives.” What on earth do they mean by such posts? That every guy who is from a financially well-off family or has a government job is a wife-beating jerk? That women in the lower classes of our society do not face domestic abuse at all? If that’s what you believe, you seriously need help.
Even amazing initiatives brought forward with truly noble intentions are mocked or downplayed by such people, if the ones who speak about those initiatives are famous public figures. I once happened to watch a video of Dr.Vasuki IAS, former District Collector of Trivandrum, promoting the use of second-hand clothes in order to reduce wastage and benefit the environment. In the video, she was wearing a second-hand saree that she got from a group of women who were doing a commendable job of collecting discarded clothes and reselling them in good condition, at a much lower price. I found it to be a very good initiative, especially coming from someone as influential as her. But under the video there were many who were quick to comment things like “When I was young, I only had one pair of clothes and a roof that leaked during the rains. For people like us, using clothes discarded by others is not something to show off, but a necessity”, the tone of the comments quite negative and accusatory.
While it certainly was bad that they had to go through such financial struggles in life, I simply couldn’t understand how and why they could use that as a reason to belittle an initiative like this. A person like her using those clothes with pride despite being able to afford new ones made the message stronger – it is not about your financial condition, whether you need to or not; it is about doing that for a bigger purpose. What part of this message is wrong? Where did she belittle the financial struggles of anyone in this? Why do we have to be negative about everyone and everything?
You see the same mentality in posts questioning how much or how little a celebrity contributed at times of a crisis, vilifying public figures by asking what they do to help the needy, how much they spend on charitable activities etc. Honestly, I feel that it is simply an easy way of showing off a fake “I’m so concerned about the poor and needy” attitude without really doing anything towards it. It is probably also a way of venting some of the frustration in knowing that someone else has got everything they secretly wish for and can never achieve, because they are only good at yapping and not doing anything worthwhile with their time. Whichever way, they continue to (not so) happily spew their toxic bullshit out and live their grumpy lives hating others for no reason. Must be fun, I’m sure!
Also published on Medium.