TALL POPPY SYNDROME ( a social phenomenon where those with more merit or success are disparaged and pulled down). Some criticism is not bad, but when the habit of condemnation and fault-finding becomes a national pastime, we need to sound the danger bells.
A strange culture of criticism pervades life these days, where everyone is a critic —— setting sights on errors and indiscretions, more than on achievements and triumphs. Time was when you waited for that one movie or restaurant review from an established media reviewer. Today, thanks to social media, self-appointed critics deluge you with opinions and ratings.
Everyone has a view on where PM Narendra Modi is going wrong and what his next step should be. With eyes trained on indiscretions, we ignore achievements and recognition.
We have become a nation that loves having an opinion —– preferably negative —— and likes nothing better than sharing it. And so, slowly the limelight has shifted from achievements and proud moments to the downfall and public disgrace of others. In a terrible about-turn of the phrase ‘no news is good news’, today, we have come to a stage when ‘good news is no-news’. The Media leads the charge, each TV channel watching out for “Breaking News” moments —— mostly censoring or condemning a perceived wrong move, a misdirected word or action or a wardrobe malfunction. People invariably tweet negative stuff, easily adopting moral grandstands, because that is what attracts attention.
Egged on by a trigger-happy audio-visual media, which shoots down and ridicules public figures for the slightest gaffe, we are stepping into a well-established culture of the TALL POPPY SYNDROME. It is all very well for children to pull each other down under the keen pressure of performance, dismissing achievers as ‘nerds’ and ‘losers’. It is even understandable when professionals do so in a dog-eats-dog world, where pulling down one may spell success for another. —— Children today tune into news channel not for information, but to guffaw at people pulling each other down. This is a veritable street fight delivered to you through television, and worse, viewers love it. The more vitriolic the content, the higher the TRPs a programme delivers.
We have become a people waiting to pounce and denounce on social media. Each one is a potential journalist or sleuth, waiting to be propelled to fame with the latest muck to hit the ceiling, hoping for a post to go viral. And this attitude then spills over into real life. A critical eye knows no limits. Forgetting to praise the good work done, bosses pounce on little mistakes. Spouses and friends don’t hold back judgement, parents lay it on thick.
Experience tells that positive strokes work far better than ridicule, especially public ridicule. Today, we have the power to make or break people through exposes and sting operations. But we also still retain the power to motivate and galvanise the good amongst us. And in order to indulge one, we must not give up the other.
When we criticise, let us also stay attuned to the good in those we deride. Everyone has some good in them.