The social media outrages spearheaded by branded liberals (those who think that the word on their bios covers their bigotry and at times, even abuse) are not new. But I used to think that those outrages are limited to political scenarios and at times at some social scenarios.
I was amazed when these branded liberal voices unified and carpet bombed the social media with rebuttals, memes and what not, in response to this article by Gayatri Jayaraman. I personally felt the article pointed out a relevant issue. Peer pressure over lifestyle usually followed by a bout of struggle and depression is real and is often not talked enough about. Guess the stereotypes of the times of Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar are still prevalent though in their 21st-century versions. Sadly, the youth lost the wisdom of Vidyasagar.
Financial prudence in the face of new-found independence is a critical need. In a society which has been programmed to believe that achievement is about ability to spend money, it is tricky to survive on a need-driven lifestyle. The article brought up the much-needed discussion on the peer pressure leading to unwanted spending. It is a reminder that in the 21st century, we the educated Gen-Ys/Gen-Zs are still sadly very judgment driven about superfluous things such as eating out, branded wear, etc. If nothing, the article nudges us to acknowledge and respect the frugal living which has been a virtue in Indian old school middle class.
Many would realize this and change after remaining broke for a couple of months while the long week still remains before the pay day. Many more might do with a caring advice to get back to the simple lifestyle that assures them that they will not be judged for not spending. If not sympathizing, any sane person would agree that this segment is the tax paying lot which ought to be nudged towards a path of prudence. While the criticism over the term, Urban Poor that Gayatri used against what should have been Urban broke is valid, there was a lot of unwarranted bile against sympathizing with these urban broke segment. So it felt totally jarring when the piece was met with severe criticism from multiple opinion portals and the cliched memes on social media.
Some of the responses were as hilarious as they were jealous while totally missing the point in the article. Some seemed to think that Gayatri is robbing of the real urban poor of their reserved compassion space by calling for sympathy towards the urban broke. They should probably be reminded that the readers have a brain of their own and are perfectly capable of understanding the difference between the two while acknowledging the real issues bothering both segments. Deepa Menon makes a profound observation where she says that the angry narrative choreographers think that those who feel for the young working professionals will not sympathize with a poor labourer starving to send his child to school. It is almost like those angry with the article feel we ought to sympathize with one segment while it is fine to leave the other in depression.
Worst were the attacks on Gayatri’s personal life and those linking her previous articles on an unrelated topic and passing judgments on her sanity. Is it so beyond them to keep the two separate and critique a post for its content without getting personal? As someone who agreed with a lot expressed in the article, it pained me to find about the kind of abuse Gayatri faced.
And sadly she is right about the branded liberals who storm trooped on her profile for daring to write this article. Her freedom of expression is perhaps not as important as theirs.
Indeed, there are no liberals. It is just a mob (perhaps some with plush jobs with some plush news portals). They hate you when you write anything that trends which is out of their narrative space. They dictate who you should sympathize with and whose struggles you are supposed to ignore. They find it offensive when stereotypes they hold dear are broken. They also dictate which murder is more tragic than the other and which rape is more condemnable than the other. And they think they are right, for their conscience (if that exists), makes them say – I am a Liberal, mind you. Dare you disagree!