Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Why Do We Care So Much...

...about other people's opinions? As a society, we seem to be in constant worry about what the other person thinks. What does my boss think? What does my friend think? We even care about what total strangers think. I can understand the logic behind caring about what your immediate family members might think because they might be the closest people to you and don't necessarily want to let them down. But we seem to care quite a lot about other people's opinions. Do you think it was the same in the past where there was less media interference in society? Where the rules were slightly different? These days, everyone seems to have an opinion about others and i certainly know i'm one of those people. I try to caution myself about it when i realise that i'm doing it because it just seems quite stupid doesn't it?

In the game of pointing fingers, who's to blame for it? Hitler, Mass media? Tabloids? Personally, i grew up in a background where other people's opinions of you either makes or breaks you. In my little village down south of Nigeria, once a negative remark has been made about someone in your family by an elderly person, you know you're screwed. I don't mean screwed like people are going to hate you. More like no one wants to have any associations with your family; no one wants to marry from your family or even marry into your family. Did someone hear that you spent the night in the house of a man whom you're not married to? OMG!!! You are in for the biggest shit of your life! You certainly would be the new slut of the village and whichever man decides to marry you from that village would always live in the shadows of that incident. As for your family; well if you have a father like mine then chances are you'll be disowned. But your family would always have to live with the shame that you dragged their name in the mud. Of course, it's not the same in other villages and it certainly isn't the case when you live in the city. But these issues have their way of rearing their ugly heads.

My mum was telling me about a family that's currently going through 'shame' in the village circle. They live in the same town as my parents do and we also happen to come from the same village. Well, they sent their daughter to the US to study for her undergrad and she came back pregnant and unmarried. Of course in the western world this isn't too much of a big deal, after all there's an ample part of society with single parents. In my city, the only shame they're having to endure is that her parents hold a certain prestige in the church community. So she has commited the ultimate sin!!! On the other hand, in the village she's now the news headline. Mum went back to the village for my uncle's traditional wedding and the story is pretty much all she hears. "Did you hear that so-and-so's daughter came back from US pregnant and single? What a slut she is. Which kind of respectful man would want to marry her? So she spent all those dollars sleeping around eh?"

Worst part is her child might have to endure such ridicle in the future if he/she ever decides to venture to the village. So should culture then be blamed for the effect of people's opinions? Or should we defer it more to the issue of civilisation. Because my village IS a village populated mostly by the elderly and the young ones living there have already embodied the same habits of the elderly. And the majority of them tend to be illiterate as well. But in the city everyone is all about the 21st century. It's almost like moving from the 19th century to the 21st century in the space of 1.5 hours because that's how long it takes to drive from my city to the village. No wearing short skirts, loud makeup, big earrings, tight clothes, jeans, trousers or cleavage revealing clothes on the trip to the village because that's all it takes for me to relegate my family into a certain opinionated corner. And in the city at home? Well, no short skirts, jeans, trousers, big earrings, cleavage or tight clothes for me either because my parents happen to be very religious so you know every member of the church would have to say something; especially since i actually grew up in that church!

I remember in 2003 i wore hoop earrings to church, that was my first taste of opinions!!! The usher called me aside and said: 'You know, these earrings are very worldly, you should take them off!' Being the stubborn person i was, i said no!!! That was all it took for mayhem to ensue. The next thing i know, my mum's asking me if i was rude to the usher because he went and reported me to her. Like seriously?! After explaining to her what happened, she just laughed it off and said that she's a 21st century mother so she understands me. But that didn't stop other people from commenting. One of the ladies in church told me i was dressed like one of those 'other' girls - the 'sinners' who weren't christains - because of my earrings, the fact that my orange skirt suit was quite fitted even though it was 3/4 length skirt, the fact that i had nail polish on and i was rocking some major black eyeliner. Her criticisng my dress didn't bother me so much because my mum made it and she saw me before i left the house anyway!!! Did i mention that my eyeliner was specially made for me by my gran??? It's a tradition for girls to wear eyeliner especially if you're from a certain lineage because the eyes are the windows to the soul, hence the best seductive tool for men. So what better way than to wear black liner rimming your gorgeous eyes ey? My aunt got a brown-black one from my gran because she's got cat eyes and some major eyelashes so she doesn't need much emphasis like i do. Mum gave up wearing eyeliner after she got married because she always hated it, but gran used to make her wear it and since she was already married she didn't need to seduce any men anymore....hahahaha.

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