Posted On April 17, 2021
So… How are you?!
After months of hiding within the folds of everyday life activities, here I am. During my absence, I read a bunch of books and found new hobbies. Those of you who know me personally, know how much I love stories with complex characters. I am a sucker for stories where the line of morality is so thin it is easily smudged and therefore a thousand twists in the tale. As a child of 6 or 7 years, all of a sudden a question struck me, and it has stayed with me since. “Which one is a stronger love? A person telling their partner that they want to die before them because they cannot imagine a life without them, or someone telling their partner that they secretly pray for their spouse to die first because they know for sure that their spouse won’t be able to make it alone in this world?” All that I want to say is, when it comes to asking profound and idiotic life questions, this apple fell very far from its tree!
Because of my predilection for complex characters and love for raw, faltering human emotions, my bookshelf is adorned with such stories. I realized this recently when I wanted to invite a 17-year-old to my place, to offer her books to read but it’s filled with Haruki Murakami, Milan Kundera, and one of Marcel Proust. I do have books a teen can read but they are not what I would passionately talk about!
A recurring theme in the books I read in the last couple of months was at least a fleeting presence of infidelity. Be it an old childhood friend revisiting, or a new friend who understands you better than your significant partner, infidelity seems like a strong magnet that will make you want to toss rationale into the air. I have never justified infidelity but I will be lying if I said that in some well-written piece of works, it hasn’t cast a profound spell on me. Yes, I am one of those people who will pine for the star-crossed lovers and incomplete goodbyes. I guess melancholy is my choice of poison when it comes to books. But maybe my progressing age and a better understanding of real-life relationships have caused these plots to have lesser magic on me. I don’t find myself smitten by the return of the prodigal lover and the knight in shining armor selling his shoulder to lean on so vigorously like he has a sales target to hit.
I love the quote by Oscar Wilde “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life”
We are the content we consume and there is no better example than what social media has done to us. So my question is what effect has romanticizing infidelity have on normal, everyday human life, and are we headed in the right direction with this matter? I for one have come to strongly believe that it has shaped and reshaped our moral values. We want to imitate the sitcom lives, the dialogues, their dresses, and their relationships. But what we often forget is that at the end, there is someone at the shooting spot who says ‘cut’ and the artists step into a different world. In this world they are not star-crossed lovers, they are normal humans with accountability to society. Now, before you pounce on me saying ‘We don’t live for the society and are free to do what we want, honey, let me break your bubble because we live in one, and we live for people around us, who are part of the society.
At times, I wonder if we have a certain sense of responsibility as content consumers, to consume sustainable content, meaning that it does not just prove to be a fad but actually adds value to the consumer’s life. The reason books with such plots sell well is because people like us ask for them. I’m not saying that I don’t like the authors I mentioned before, because I love them and their work, to the point that I have their quotes hanging on my wall. Perhaps what I am more concerned about is the maturity of the audience. I cannot imagine what an 18-year-old would grasp from a Murakami novel. Probably a raging hormone would say, going after what the mind wants even when it is outside the realm of reason is the actual meaning of life. Does this sort of vagabond attitude when it comes to ethics help shape a teen into the best version of themselves? Art is subjective and what I take from the book I read is heavily influenced by my life experiences. As a 17-year-old, I will want to be the star-crossed lover, whereas as a 25-year-old my heart will reach out to the loyal partner who forgives the other. Our consumption of art in any form, be it music or books, comes with a long-lasting effect on our psyche than we would ever care to think about.
I am not here to impart wisdom on what is right and wrong, but here to maybe shed a tiny bit of light on how certain ideas that are romanticized are actually detrimental to us. We all have choices, always, in every situation. And as fellow humans whose actions affect the ones around us, it’s our responsibility to choose that which is ethical and correct.