Last evening one of my friend made a remark that he don’t want to do things which are bad for his reputation.
Well, the statement warranted a deeper insight and lot of thought. And so I did, spending lot of time thinking about it and then writing about it.
What is reputation? It’s just a way by which some people identify, characterize, brand or judge some other persons.
Why it came into existence? It came into existence because in a civilized society it was important to identify the different types of people so that civilization can be maintained with safety and security (and what not!!!). May be this was done to safeguard some people who were scared of something (I have no idea what was protected). Then there is also a concept of balancing act, for something to be called as good, there has to be something called bad. Otherwise the good is worthless and has no meaning. People in society needed some comparative benchmarks to put people into different categories, and so reputation came into play.
Reputation works in a very simple way, Say, if the society brand someone as bad or notorious, it’s a message for other people to be cautious in dealing with those persons. Whereas, the person termed as good can be dealt with more relaxations, they can be trusted more and it is okay to be with them. No one cares when you are seen talking or moving around with a so called ‘good’ person, whereas the moment you are with a ‘bad’ person, there will reprimands and in future you might also be termed as ‘bad’. The irony is that no one in a civilized society actually cares about you, all that is looked after is your reputation. Well, how then your reputation is created and who creates it – Is a million dollar question?
It’s not that difficult. There are certain standards created in our society which are benchmarks for good and bad. So much so that the various characteristics are also defined and expressed meticulously for good and bad. So, if I do something, it is just compared with the set standards and my action qualifies for being termed as either good or bad. If I keep on doing more of good activity, I am branded as ‘good’, and so is my reputation. In the opposite, if my activities falls into the standards of something bad, then I am judged as bad. And doing more of it gives me a reputation of so-called ‘bad’ person.
Who so ever worked for setting standards were quite creative. They didn’t restricted themselves in judging people simply in terms of good or bad, in fact, numerous adjectives were defined and used to extrapolate the ‘good’ and ‘bad’. The standards for these adjectives were also defined and quite elaborately explained. We, as part of this society are all aware of all those, though no one knows who set those standards. The terms like mean, antisocial, flirt, stingy, atheist, drinker, beggar, eater, party animal, social, anti-social, talker, womanizer, introvert, bore, sexy, and so on… The list never ends.
I picked up known faces and started placing them against these standards. And it surprised me? It’s so easy to brand people with such standards.
So far so good. Though I cracked most of the intricacies of reputation, but then, few questions and confusion started cropping up.
What if the standards are wrong? What if I am wrong in branding a good person as bad based on some standard set by some unknown persons? Who am I to judge him or his action? Am I really qualified to do so? How do I know under what conditions he did what he did? So the big question that came in front of me was how these standards of identification or characterizations set? What to do if the standards are themselves wrong? What if the people who are setting these standards are themselves inferior and confused?
It was getting more confusing than I anticipated in the beginning. I needed to narrow it down. I don’t know about others, let me think about myself.
And so, I tried answering the question – ‘What is my reputation?’ The question was scary. How do I know how people judge me or brand me? What people think of me? What according to them is good or bad?
What if my action are just my action and they don’t influence anyone in any sense, will I still be judged? I will never understand the need to judge me, because even though I am a part of this society, I hardly effect anyone’s existence. The irony is – no matter what I do, where I do, there is always someone who will judge me and brand me with their own expertise.
Well, it doesn’t matter whether I care for that or not, still I am judged and branded. And as far as I know some people branded me as good, some as bad, some remain confused and still taking time to put me into one of the category.
This led me to a more confusing question – Does this branding or judging affects my actions and experimentation in life?
The very fact that I will be judged by my actions and then I will be branded as some sort, will surely influence how I act or behave in society? Yes, definitely, that’s a strong possibility. So, where is my independence and freeness to live life the way I want? In such a backdrop can I really live a life of my own?
But, the story my confusions did not simply end here. Slowly when I started rewinding my life events of the recent past, some startling facts started emerging out. Once in my life I hardly cared about how other people judged me. But the more I see into the details of my past activities, I see a pattern emerging. Through my activities I was trying to give a shape to my character, expecting that I will be judged in a particular fashion. The agenda seemed to be an expectation of being branded as ‘bad’, and not as ‘Good’.
That was shocking. I was doing things that will portray me as a spoiled brat, a bad soul or whatever adjectives people add to a bad person. Now I know the reason of me acting as a moody, unemotional, uncaring, harsh, rude, insensitive person.
What forced me to do that? Did something changed in my life? Am I really trying to portray as something, or I am really becoming so called ‘bad’? I got worried. If I am really changing to something then it’s well and good. But if I am trying to portray something without really changing, then it is troublesome, because it’s not like me. It clearly symbolizes that I care about reputation (though a bad one). That means I have some expectations from people around me. And that’s trouble (Expectations are always beginning of a bigger trouble). If I am doing something to prove a point here, then it is wrong. I can’t live a life doing things with an expectation for something from others. I have to live a life of my own. And only I can be the judge of my life.
May be, I realized that there are no benefits of being good. Do I really gain anything by being so called good? After analyzing few incidents of my past I realized that the more good you are, the more is expectations from you.
Say, a good person does a wrong thing. I am sure it will become a big issues with lot of people discussing about it. What happens when a bad person does a bad thing, people hardly care about it. Now, what happens when a good person does a good thing, here again it is not noticed as good person is supposed to do good thing. When a bad person does a good thing, it is hardly noticed (chances are that people will make fun of it). Or else people will think that there is some hidden agenda to it, otherwise why a bad person will do a good thing. So who actually gets the benefit, the bad person definitely!!! He can do bad and run away with an excuse that since he is bad his activities are obvious. Whereas, the good person is always under pressure to keep up his reputation. One mistake and he will in a midst of full blown crisis.
The more I deconstruct the mysteries of reputation, the more and more it became complex.
I realize when I was good, I constantly faced this pressure of being scrutinize more. There was a constant pressure for me to perform and remain good. And that has led me to make two big decisions in life.
Firstly, not to mingle with people who think I am good. Secondly, create a reputation of a ‘bad’ person amongst the new acquaintances.
These two actions removed a lot of burden from my shoulder. Now I don’t have to behave in any particular fashion. Since now I am branded as a bad person, I don’t have to pretend. Even if I do a bad thing, people excuse me because I am bad and I am supposed to do things like that. And if I act like my original thinking, they keep on guessing what my agenda behind such action is? Again that’s not my headache.
Overall, I have achieved the loneliness I was looking for. Now, I am not bothered by the so called society gatekeepers and their scrutinies.
Thus, I can behave like an independent lion who has a reputation of being bad. But then, who knows what he thinks about himself. Maybe for him there is not even a single better soul than him.
Maybe to survive, sometimes it is necessary to become bad.
I too, don’t want to be called ‘good’. I prefer being assumed ‘bad’.