“Why is a raven like a writing desk?” asked the Mad Hatter to his dear friend Alice. (Alice in Wonderland)
Has there has been a sudden rise in the number of aspiring writers or are there countless tales waiting to be told? Or is it that our long muzzled hearts have finally found voices to scream loudly? It might simply be that we seek reassurance for ourselves and have finally found solace in the warmth of words. Sites like Terribly Tiny Tales, Scribbled Stories and the likes that have mushroomed in the recent times portray a rather strange picture. In a few lines, they seem to capture all our hopes, dreams, fears, regrets, pensive sadness and excitement.
For some, these platforms may be fissures to vent out their clogged emotions while for others they may be sources to vicariously relate to their inner selves and hence, recount their bittersweet memories. Netizens getting an opportunity to creatively engage is a welcome trend. However, there is more to this tale telling than meets the eye.
“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Kurt Vonnegut
While there are several reasons that can be attributed to this phenomenon, the loss of imagination and the subsequent reliance on others to speak out on our behalf is certainly one of them. In training our minds to think analytically, we have somewhere horrendously erred in letting go of our creativity.
Our school curriculum pays little emphasis on arts and the little it does is dealt away with contempt, often dismissed by parents as the lesser of the subjects. Over time, we are made to acquire and hone the skill sets that ‘matter’, those required to join the workforce. We ultimately do that, becoming just another input resource on the assembly lines of industries. In the process, we forego our petty little crazy dreams and begin to set more pragmatic goals that are becoming of ‘mature adults’. This fosters a deep-seated discontent, besides leaving us equally impaired even to let out our frustrations.
“Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” Jane Austen
The work environment today is one of intense pressure where we often have our blinkers put on, chasing crisp deadlines and abiding by ridiculous ground rules and guidelines. We hardly have the breathing space to venture out on our own. We have gotten ourselves so accustomed to thinking inside the box or being instructed and almost pestered to think outside the box that we would be boggled if handed an empty slate. We have somehow remarkably managed to box our creativity.
The persuasion of any creative expression is both intensely directed and selfishly goal oriented. What lies in the vested interests of work teams and our corporations at large is actively promoted and any digression from those is ruthlessly throttled. This has gutted our society with individuals who have lost their sense of individuality and slog endlessly to fit into the mould of trade of the mill products.
This further perpetuates dissatisfaction. Some learn to make peace with their circumstances, sneering upon their former ‘impractical’ selves, brandishing their new found wisdom and working upon borrowed ambitions. Others for the fear of unsettling their present lives, prefer to live in the delusion by procrastinating the pursuit of their dreams to some another day.
Not far removed from work, our personal lives are not of much help either. We are saddled with the weight of modern day relationships that are both complex and fleeting in nature and marred with inherent fault lines. They snap at the slightest sign of a discord. There is no dearth of people who throng our lives but we are left with virtually no one to confide in.
The fast pace of our lives further ensures that neither there is time for our internal bruises to heal nor for any sort of introspection. Networking, business relationships and friends for benefits have taken precedence over investing time, cultivating and nurturing long lasting bonds. All that we are left with in the end is a long list of acquaintances that align as per mutual convenience.
“The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” Ernest Hemingway
Writing is one of the most potent forms of art to let our entrapped souls out every once in a while. You can lay bare anything from the occasional ennui to hidden angst to love pangs. At times, we need to articulate our predicament and at times bank upon others to do it for us. This is where these platforms have become instrumental.
Furthermore, they help us render our musings in muffled undertones, low enough to not be explicitly recognised and yet stay meaningful and true. Beauty lies in those very same words meaning different things to different people. Somewhere in this mad rush and opinionated noise of the society, we do need to find our own voice, to escape the burden of foreign aspirations and to let loose our creative moorings.
“Have you guessed the riddle yet?” the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.
“No, I give it up,” Alice replied: “What’s the answer?”
“I haven’t the slightest idea,” said the Hatter.