Fear of being 'judged', need to 'fit in' and 'us' - is this what social anxiety looks like today?
Why can't I love Bappi and Beethoven alike?
- Total Shares
My guilty pleasure could be watching Andaz Apna Apna, heck, even any of the Housefull movies, but when I'm discussing cinema, and invariably want to assert my knowledge of cinema, I will start with Bicycle Thief, make a pitstop at Roman Holiday, and ultimately land on Call Me By Your Name.
Why can’t I like — unapologetically so — all of the aforementioned movies?
The reverse is equally true most of the time.
Thrashing a particular genre of populist cinema could very well be a move accepted in the film enthusiasts’ club. How can one ever praise Shah Rukh Khan for spreading his arms? Even if you’ve personally watched Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge a gazillion times!
Jazz, Diljeet or Chikni Chameli? (Source: YouTube screengrab)
It's particularly problematic when you find yourself at a house party and the self-appointed DJ asks, “Guys, what kind of music do you want?” You are suddenly torn between jazz and Diljeet Dosanjh while reprimanding the Bollywood buff in you for wanting to break into a Chikni Chameli.
An ex-colleague would diligently walk into the office on time, switch on her computer and all the relevant tabs, plug in her earphones to listen to Cigarettes After Sex and go about editing copies like a Ninja. This was right after she had joined. It took her several months, several glasses of Vodka, a house party and not much coaxing to start jiving to the Bollywood ‘masala’ numbers we had on our party playlist. Once the inhibition was gone, we knew we could be good friends.
This reflects on our social media behaviour too. Nobody ever admits to watching Hum Saath Saath Hain or quotes Chetan Bhagat on their status, if not with the intention to mock it. Every Instagram picture has to go with an appropriate caption, quoted from some poet, and a substantial amount of time is spent in finding that appropriate quote. If someone goes to page 2 of Google search, that’s some dedication!
Nobody ever quotes Chetan Bhagat unless to mock him. (Source: YouTube screengrab)
A friend recently admitted she gave up reading Jeffrey Archer, or at least admitting to reading him after she was told his writing is ‘shallow.’ Who are these people? Friends, colleagues, fellow bibliophiles.
It’s not as if the idea I just described in the 500-odd words above is a figment of the imagination, or even too niche for one to claim credit for spotting.
Simply put, it’s just social anxiety.
Except, in this day and age, one doesn’t even need to socialise for anxiety to stifle you.
Fit in or fall out. (Source: YouTube screengrab)
The fear of being judged or evaluated negatively has been proven to be one of the causes for feeling inadequate about one’s self, which could even lead to bouts of depression.
Most of us who cope with that, cope with it silently, in our homes, in our beds, munching away on chips, Netflixing and chilling. But most importantly, we do it by ourselves.
But this coping mechanism can be a terrible thing. Who is to say that a stray strand of our 'omnivert' personalities is not creating this urge to ‘fit in?’ Even if it is at the cost of curbing our ‘silly’ but ‘true’ selves?
People are constantly judging us, or so we perceive. Therefore, the pressure of portraying one's self as an 'intellectual' comes from within. After all, no one wants to be truly known as ‘shallow,’ and even when we do, it is simply a twisted way of hiding our inherent insecurities and projecting our coolness-induced nonchalance.
‘Too cool for school’ is also just a cult.
So, are we doomed to constantly keep appropriating ourselves to fit into different boxes we might be thrown into? Well, yeah. Or we could consciously give two hoots — not too many, we don’t want to come across as trying too hard. Just two is enough — to being judged.
Dance, like nobody is watching! (Source: YouTube screengrab)
At house parties, I now promptly take over the music system and start queuing up Bappi Lahiri songs.
There is not a single soul who wouldn’t dance when he screams, “Give me a D!”