A few weeks back, i met a person i had befriended on twitter through a common contact. I like meeting new people and in general have met genuinely talented and amazing people from the twitter world. Hence, i didn’t think twice before saying yes to a casual meet with the person in question.
We met over dinner and i came away thinking that it went pretty well. Our conversation ranged from discussing life in general in Dubai and Bombay where he currently resides, love interests, professional opinions, television likes and dislikes as well as viewpoints on current state of politics in India and the intertwining role played by religion in affecting it. Pretty normal conversation for someone meeting for the first time. Or so i thought.
Early next morning, while lingering over a cup of coffee, my half-asleep brain was rudely awakened by a few back-to-back very nastily worded tweets, all with cc to me, by this person. All of them revolving around religious and political ideologies of a certain political leader that we had discussed the previous evening. My first reaction was obviously WTHeeey! I carefully read it a few times over to figure out what exactly was the message that was being sent to me. And more importantly, why?
I played out our dinner conversation in my mind over and over again to figure out if i had said anything so offensive or unacceptable to be meted out such treatment. After incessantly focusing and thinking over each tiny detail, i came to the conclusion that i had suddenly been thrown into a situation where i had to deal with a person who seemed reasonable until it came to accepting a political viewpoint so varyingly different to their own.
Here is the thing, based on his tweets, i knew his dislike towards a certain political party and more specifically, a political leader. I openly state the fact that I probably am not the best person to dish out the most knowledgeable opinion on situations and political governance of countries that i have never lived in. But I strongly believe that everyone is entitled to have a viewpoint. One that is formed based on personal experiences and things and ideas that they see, hear about and come across. What I am absolutely against however, is any person trying to influence or change that viewpoint to match their own by wrongfully using statements expressed to make a point during a PRIVATE conversation.
Which is exactly what happened with me. This person used a so called Twitter ‘celeb’s tweets to push their own opinion and to get me to justify my own. What he did not realize was that I am not one of those who can be moved into saying and accepting something just because somebody else is forcing me to. No sir, i do not respond to hate and moreover do not back down from showing hateful and intolerant people the exit door. Once i had a fair idea of the person’s intent, I only responded with a firm message that made it clear that neither did i have the time nor the patience to get into discussions with people those who had already decided it’s outcome.
The thing that pissed me off the most about the episode was the casual way in which a statement i had casually expressed during the conversation was used to turn tables towards me and ‘show’ me how wrong i was to think like that. Seriously IMHO, why don’t people just get life and get past opinions they can’t control. Express yourself but don’t expect everyone to agree wholeheartedly with you just because you think they should. I don’t go behind people for thinking in a certain way and do not appreciate people sticking their useless post-it’s on mine.
One thing i learnt from this episode is that it’s best to stick to safe topics, at least when meeting somebody for the first time. You never know how and when they come behind you to bite you later in the ass.