Tokyo Olympics and some Introspection
The Tokyo Olympics, 2021, has been quite an exciting journey for us by now. Starting with the disappointments that sports and players are not given enough support, the consequence being India’s low ranking in the games, then moving towards congratulating medal winners — it is as much a reflection of our attitude towards life. I would want to shoot a trigger warning, just in case the readers get offended by the observation that I have made in the past few days. It can also turn us around, make us realize our hypocrisies.
Since India’s beginning was a bit low, all of us were glued to the news waiting for any winning announcement. Our excitement rose with any news, however small it was. We were proud of the players — they had worked hard to achieve whatever they did, and we did not spare a chance to let our happiness show. The big news was when the hockey team bagged a bronze for the country — our enthusiasm knew no bounds. Everyone took to social media and other platforms to congratulate the team for bringing such an honour. After all, a medal after 41 years isn’t a thing to be taken lightly. Agencies like The Wise Idiot grabbed every moment to make these kinds of news known. It is safe to say that for a few days, our WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feed was filled with these congratulatory posts, and rightly so.
Now, another miracle happened when Neeraj Chopra won the gold medal in Men’s Javelin Throw. People’s joy surpassed everything when we heard our national anthem being sung in Tokyo. Amidst the negativity of Covid-19 (pun fully intended), these wins became a source of our positivity. But, here’s the twist.
The moment we got the news of India bagging gold, we started overlooking the bronze medalists. Funny how swiftly we moved past the announcement that made us teary-eyed just a few days ago. Furthermore, wrestler Bajrang Punia securing the third position on the very same day as Chopra’s historic win was not as shiny as the gold medal. Oh, did you know that Aditi Ashok made a legendary swing to come fourth in golf? The events have been written here in order of the amount of attention being given to them. Let us debunk this.
Neeraj Chopra winning gold definitely justifies the country’s celebration. But, should it make Punia’s bronze or Ashok’s skill any less shiny? Morally, no. But, it is happening. We are attracted to the ‘better’ achievements more. We forget the previous wins and overlook the current achievements when we see someone performing and receiving something that is technically supposed to be more prestigious. This is what has been troubling me. Why is success so objective?
That is how we have been trained to think. The better always attracts more. We are taught to perceive winning as an objective point where only the best receives the most. The subjectivity of hard work, perseverance, and satisfaction do not find a place in our thought process. Put yourself in a similar situation and you will have your answer. Imagine you getting perfect grades in a subject you have always been good at and simultaneously getting an improved (but comparatively and significantly lower than the former) grade in a subject you struggled with. Which one are you happy or sad about? It will be a rare occurrence that you will be proud of yourself for scoring better in your weak subject than you did last time. In fact, you will feel remorse that you did not get as high as the other subject. Unfair, right?
We were happy with the news of India winning bronze as long as gold was received. We keep searching for better things to celebrate, not caring about the amount of time and difficulty spent on achieving even one of them.
Let me give you another instance. There is an American television show named Spartacus. It is based on the ancient Roman Empire when gladiator fighting used to be a big event. The basic component of that game was that two men would fight until one wins over the other, mostly by killing the opponent. Now, it could happen that gladiators were kept in opposition to an ordinary, stick-carrying man — spectators did not care as long as they were enjoying the show. There was no thought about human life, about sympathy towards the lesser strong or abled man — all was fine because they had fun. Enthusiasm was extracted from the tremendous bloodshed, violence, and death — it was the drama of killing each other which thrilled people until it was one of them.
We are not that different from the ancient Romans. We keep fishing for new and more exciting events by obsessively scrolling through social media or television channels. The consumer is hungry for a new tweet, review, or post. Only to move past it when a more recent and trending post comes. Every post is a winning gladiator or a bronze medal until our eyes are enamoured by the newest shine. It has been us for the longest of time, it will be us in the future as well. The monstrosity of consumerism is here to stay — I am not going too far when I say that we are mere moths constantly being attracted to the brighter light of success and trend.