Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm open-minded...

The joke on CouchSurfing (yep, I'm still pimping the site) is that every person describes himself/herself as "open-minded". In fact, you see it described so often and for so many people, that it ends up losing meaning.

I used to believe that I am open-minded and pretty liberal about other people. But I have come to realise that being truly open-minded is one of the hardest things to do. In fact, I think it might be almost impossible to be so (for me).

The whole idea behind this business is that you accept the choices that others make, the customs they follow and so on, irrespective of what you think about the matter. The actions that do not affect you are none of your business. That's how it should ideally be.

But judging someone is so easy. And so tempting. The reason you make a certain choice is because you gave it some thought and decided that you do not agree with what the other options entail. Following a religion that makes you do strange stuff, walking 3 km to save money, preferring pizza to lasagna, cheating on your girlfriend (or not) - all these choices that you made are something that you can justify to yourself. No one else can understand the reasons behind a certain decision. They can agree or disagree, but I believe it is difficult to understand.

But when I see someone doing that I may not agree with, my mind kicks into overdrive listing all the reasons that it is wrong (reasons that apply to me), and I end up deciding that the person made a bad decision. For example, I have decided for myself to never smoke (limitation not confined to just tobacco, but to other stuff too). This, however, should have no bearing on whether my friends or others should or not do that. And yet, every time I see someone I know do it, I veer towards judging them to be a lost cause.

One of the results of hanging out with non-Indians is that I can easily end up outside my comfort-zone. Unless you really face a situation that tests you, you don't know how you will react to it. So this has been a great learning experience - where I am in the process of figuring out what is (and isn't) kosher for me. And that isn't the difficult step.
Learning to not hold your standards as a measure for someone else is difficult.

Self Awareness

Blogger started a new feature not too long ago. It permits you to see the "Stats" for your blog. You get to see how many pageviews you have got, which posts are popular, what browsers were used to land on this page, which links directed them here, and what country were the pages viewed in.

As far as I know, in the 70 blog posts published here, there are only 2 comments whose authors are people I have never met/known. Until recently, I believed that my "audience" consisted of the handful of friends (and a few relatives). So I have been pretty nonchalant about discussing stuff, allowing for typos and keeping the navel-gazing narcissism alive in posts.

Now I see that some people actually read some stuff I write. (I hope it's not the same 10 people contributing to ~200 pageviews in the last month. I mean, for their sake...) Also, stuff leaves me baffled. Why is that post where I link to an article about Feynman so popular (the smiley heading, maybe?). It's normal to see visits from US, India and France - that's where my friends and relatives are. But pageviews from Vietnam, Netherlands and Latvia? Does my blog seem music to Vietnamese ears (or eyes)? Maybe I'm a local hero over there, just like Simple Jack.

And why are so many of my readers using Internet Explorer?!!! That's the real tragedy in all this.

What this all has done though, is that now I'm always curious about who reads this crap I write. My ego is inflating - I've been led to believe that is not a good thing. But mostly, I spend a little time wondering about how what I write makes me look like. (I'm narcissist and self-centered, get over it.) (Yep, pointing that out totally makes it okay. Just like saying "I don't mean to offend you" before offending someone.)

The overall point is, that I hope I manage to write the way I do, at the frequency I do and not get swayed away by fame and fortune. I will remember my minions early readers when I go to collect my Oscar.. err Nobel Peace Prize... whatever it is I am supposed to win.