Wednesday, February 8, 2012


One thing that I have come to learn and accept – everything in this world is naturally slated to turn into a community.  I think, by virtue of being human beings we are endowed with the innate flair to form communities – embrace people who are similar to us, resist those who are different and form signs, symbols and create rituals to cherish the similarities and sustain the community.

A few days back, I joined Wikipedia as a contributor and I was surprised to see how much of a community it actually was, contrary to the free, no-binding form of encyclopedia that it appears out to be. It has all the natural making of the set-up of a family – they have senior contributors, progressive ranking and order, there are rules and proceedings for new contributors, seniors mentor the juniors, there are rules, discussion forums and even an award system where members can give each other badges for their contribution. And all this frankly, saddened me a bit.

Because, the one thing that freaks me out the most is binding – binding to any institution or organization – be it family, corporation or community. This is not to say that I am a rebel. It would be hard for anyone to believe I am one, given the non-assertive demeanor at first glance. For the most part, conflicts put me at disease and sometimes it feels good to be obedient and the ‘good’ member of the group.

Yet after a while, belonging starts to tire you. It feels like somewhere, you are missing a wider perspective of things and crave to leap out of bounds. Plus, communities are naturally slated for competition. It is not a coincidence that almost every person I see tells me, “Oh, there is a lot of politics in my organization”. How can it be that I tend to only meet people from office teeming with politics? It is because organization and politics go together – perhaps more so in some and less in others.

I wonder if complete liberation and non-conformity from institutions is possible at all. Of course, there is a possibility that I keep my participation minimal and emotionally detach myself. Yet, will that give me the freedom I dream of? I wonder…


Srinidhi said...

I think organisations and politics are indeed a reflection of competition. To be better than him, her and her. To get that coveted spot/ raise. To understand why she is treated better than I. But how can you be separated/ detached from it all? you can be indifferent perhaps.. but detached I am not sure is achievable.

I am not one to compete or fight. But I can see myself forced to deal with the politics in one way or the other. That is the power of community. A power I much rather avoid.

But to say that living alone or away will change that is also not true.. since even then you are forced to interact with the "community" right?

I am sorry. This is a pretty twisted comment. :P

Arumugam said...

I hope you don't intend to break the law soon or run through a red light and thus putting out feelers through this post:-)

Anything of significance cannot be done alone except self realization.Free from family,corporation,society,institution of marriage.....oh,but even then you would belong to the sainthood community;P

I too discovered Wikipedia contribution just a few days back,I agree the amount of collaboration is mind boggling,but look at it this way,though it is a community, it is an incredibly diverse one and not in the hands of a few old Britannica editors:-)I too experience a similar awe whenever I either use / code for open source software.

Though I am still a little confused about what kind of 'liberation' is being sought in this post?

Vicky Dada (Vikas) said...

Only the fittest survive. The ones who are not so fit, need immunity.. and thats where comes community.

harishsram said...

@vicky dada - correct me if am wrong - isn't your statement opposite of what she is trying to convey & question here?

Tangled up in blue... said...

You know if you'd like a bit of anarchy, you should hop over to wikipedia's evil twin, uncyclopedia. See how different it is. :D

On a more serious note, I think any community will have some inherent code or unwritten/written rules to follow because of course, some order is necessary. Also with something like wikipedia, it is important to ensure that contributors can be trusted and responsible. It makes the whole idea of a free encyclopedia sound boring I agree but what they do there is something I sincerely appreciate as I'm sure you do, too.

I think some of us are kinda lone wolves, you know. I sometimes wonder why I don't have a large circle of acquaintances in the real world but have no dearth of them in the virtual world. Perhaps because it is a different sort of community.

Also maybe human beings are inherently wired to seek out company which gives us a sense of belonging because evolutionarily that's what ensured survival. But with the alienating effect of urbanisation perhaps it won't be so much of a requirement anymore.

As for the last paragraph of your post, the idea of freedom by becoming emotionally detached was explored rather beautifully in the movie Three Colours : Blue directed by Kieslowski. It's about a woman played by Juliette Binoche whose family dies in an accident and she wanders through the city determined never to become entangled in anyone else's life ever again. The film takes the idea of liberty represented by the blue colour in the French flag and speaks about a personal liberty rather than a political one. Please do watch it if you get the chance. :)

Again, you have a lovely blog Sinduja. You really are wise beyond your years. :)

Sinduja said...

Hey folks! Firstly,really sorry - was out of station for the last three days. Thanks a lot for the comments! :)

@Srinidhi: Yes - it is an inevitable part of life - something we are innately prone to. Hmmm...what is the difference between separation and indifference? Here is a more concrete example - I can never be a part of an institution's goals - in the sense, I can never embrace it as my own; within two years, I would quit and move on to another place and hence it goes on, me a nomad in the unchanging world.

This is perhaps why I find myself thinking of careers where I am less a part of promoting the agenda of the organization and more of perhaps studying the world at large - like journalism or social work.

@Arumugam: I read it five times but am still not able to figure out the meaning of your first line! :) Pl explain.

Anything of significance can never be done alone - that is fantastic thought Arumugam! I am not against group work; I am only against group rituals - like a huge community where we are made to belong to that community by observing these rituals. I wish to experience a border-less hierarchy-less world perhaps.

A few people really feel like they are guardians of the institution they have built - but the truth is, everything is man made. For ex, I am not against the concept of schooling - but things like wearing the uniform, giving badges to 'leaders', having an assembly every morning to reinforce the school oath - these things irk me. Hmmm, maybe I am wrong.

Sinduja said...

@Vicky dada: perfectly put in a short line!

@Harish: You think so? Hmmm. I agree with him on that, communities provide a kind of strength to those who cannot draw it from themselves.

@Tangled up in blue: Yes, of course. I genuinely support their intentions. In fact, perhaps a lot of organizations with strong group ethics really have great intentions. The post was not to establish something as an absolute bad - I hope it didn't come across that way - but more of one to ponder about this facet of mine towards a common norm of the world.

:) What you have expressed in your comment is beyond wise and you call me wise beyond my age? Some of us are 'lone' wolves and can perhaps thrive without communities - yes, bang on. And me feeling bad that I couldn't respond on time is perhaps instigated partly of fear of offending this offline community that I, by chance, seem to have built and wish to preserve! :) You really hit the nail on the head.

That said, virtual communities too have made me gloomy many a times and such days, I frantically yearn to go back to the 'real' world and get some fresh air. In a way, I have desperately attempted to not get too attached to this cyber world too. And it has helped. :)

Maybe at the end of the day, I am simply searching for that one ideal community - ideal by my standards - and perhaps Utopian too.

Arumugam said...

And we were just beginning to get a wee bit worried on your absence and hoped you were fine:D That is the power of a community albeit virtual:-)

I completely empathise with your comment addressed to Srinidhi.As a white collar corporate slave chained to cubicle 3A-GF-172 :),let me tell you I often envy physicians ,scientists and even blue collar workers! At least blue collar work is straightforward exchange of work for wages.Similarly a physician/ scientists identify with their profession not the hospital or lab where they work.A white collar employee must sell 'himself' in a environment with ill defined expectations and manipulation and mind games where 'personality' outweighs performance .Not always but does happen.Totally unfair to people who are not into 'networking'.

You would find the philosophy of Libertarianism very appealing:-)I feel a few checks and balances are required in individual freedom
Taking your example of schooling,I dont feel uniforms are against individual liberty!:)It is required so that children from lower socio-economic backgrounds dont develop complexes and feel inferior.Certain group rituals we do in school like assemblies and National anthems are to make us feel part of something bigger than ourselves.

And that first line!:) Might have been a tad too idiomatic but since you wer questioning all institutional structures of community,I meant were you testing the waters before actually going against them:-)

harishsram said...

i was talking about the other facet of community - & i felt you were targeting that as well. Communities while propagates uniformity & helps out people who are lost, it also kills people who can't meet that uniformity. While i would love to be part of a group/community never felt i belong there - Like the Chinese proverb i recently heard, 'you are one among them, yet not one of them'.

Sinduja said...

@Arumugam: Ah, how sweet! :D Perhaps I should start giving out community appreciation badges too. :)

Oh, networking is that important? Damn, I better not venture anywhere near the field. Lol.

Checks and balances are definitely required in the concept of freedom but this is so to keep in line those who cannot respect others' freedom and use freedom to go haywire, harming themselves or others. Yet, unfortunately others too are forced to comply and hence miss out on the beauty of complete liberation.

Testing the waters? Ha ha - at least this might not be the best place for it, considering that I find many like-minded people only here, who might be for it rather than completely against all I say - at least, they would consider and ponder over it.

Sinduja said...

@Harish: Kills people who can't meet that uniformity? True. Sigh, what can a poor soul do when so many plot to kill her? :D

Tangled up in blue... said...

Sinduja, I must say though I have discovered your blog quite recently and have started commenting on it just two posts ago, I also wondered why you hadn't responded to the comments yet. :D So yes, I agree with Arumugam there. :)

And as for an ideal community, I also wonder what that will be like. It will have facets of both the 'real' and the virtual I think. Maybe we could one day mesh together what we like and discard what we don't from both.

However, I do think that conversations can be a lot more 'real' and meaningful between people under 'the comforting anonymity of the internet' as a friend of mine put it once. :)

As for wikipedia, I see your point now. And I agree. It does feel a little bit straitjacketed.

Anonymous said...

Whew! Nice to see you. Was worried that you'd taken the non-binding very seriously. Perhaps it (binding) may not mean much to you, but do think of the denizens of your world who derive sustenance from your blog.