We’ve all heard of the glitterati and the ‘chatterati’ et al, but the one community that I am really wary of is the ‘bitterati’.
There are some in this world who have seldom said a negative word, and others who have never uttered anything positive. It is the latter category that I am referring to. Thankfully the majority still consists of normal human beings who are generally optimistic about life, but whose faith in humanity does ebb now and then.
The man on the train who shouts at the waiters, then squabbles with his wife on the phone, then goes on to malign the government and all its prominent torch bearers, as well as the Indian cricket team, is the one to be truly avoided. And rather appallingly, the fence-sitters around him tend to veer towards his acerbity! He finds several ‘nodders’ (as PG Wodehouse would call them) in his vicinity. They duly nod at each ounce of vitriol that he spews. No one dares to counter him and tell him that life cannot be all about mudslinging.
On the other hand, the professional gossip who spreads rumours about the indulgences of fellow men and women, has been around for centuries, so there’s nothing startling about him. We all know the old joke about the group of ladies who would meet to chat regularly. But they were extremely quiet one fine day, since each one of them had turned up!
Being a critic of everything under the sun, however, cannot be an existence to aspire for. A new Harvard Business School (HBS) study finds that ‘toxic’ co-workers damage an organisation’s eco-system to such an extent that rooting them out is far more productive than hiring outstanding newbies. Another study, this time by Concordia University, concludes that ‘persistent bitterness’ can actually lead to physical disease.
It appears that people of our era are ungrateful for what they have and are constantly aspiring for ‘more and better’- which is a laudable objective in itself, if it simply spurs us on, sans the thanklessness. Why does one have to be disgruntled with one’s present lot in order to strive harder?
A family we know well has scaled the socio-economic ladder pretty rapidly in the past few years. They have found success in each venture that they have embarked upon, and the Almighty seems rather pleased with them. Of late, however, arrogance and boorish behaviour seem to have caught up with them. Thus the lowly drivers and peons who serve them have borne the brunt of that family’s newly found stature and have sadly been treated in despicable fashion on a regular basis.
Another facet of being bitter is the life-long animosity that some of us hold against those who have wronged us. The Bible says that we should forgive such persons “seventy times seven”! Yet we tend to hold grudges against those who denigrate us or damage us in some manner. Young professionals particularly need to avoid such tendencies else they will continue to be bogged down by the burdens of the mind instead of growing in their careers.
The media at large too appears to have been bitten by the bitterness bug. There is so much consternation on display at each remotely significant issue which crops up in our country, that it is truly embarrassing to watch TV news. Even the print media focuses mainly on ‘negative news’ and while the media clearly has to be vigilant, it is imperative that human interest stories be highlighted as well.
While we cannot blame the media alone for being the propellant of the ‘bitterati’ brigade, it is important for the fourth estate to take a reality check on its stance and style at times.
What then is to be done about the malaise of negativism that seems to have seeped into our society? One very potent method could be to incorporate classes on positive thinking and empathy into the educational modules of schools across the land. Our children would then not only be able to see the sunny side of life themselves but will also make their largely cynical parents think twice before falling into the bitterness trap!