April 16, 2024

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Despite level of staggering economic development around the world, there are many poor people around the globe. Poverty has its deep-rooted home in most of the countries. There is poverty in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Contrary to established myth, there is poverty in UK, Singapore, and even in the capital of planet, the USA. If we go little deeper in statistics, according to the Brookings report India had 73 million people living in extreme poverty which makes up 5.5% of its total population and at same time U.S. Census Bureau found that 38.1 million people in USA is below poverty line about one in eight. Being in poverty in nothing but wretchedness and whatever attempts are made, words are incapable to demonstrate the pain agony inflicted by the poverty.

Poverty has different shades of colour. Colour of poverty in United States and that of poverty in India is not same. However, it inflicts same wretchedness, pain, and agony but underlying foundation is uniquely different. In some places, people are hungry for food.  Some places, people are deprived of shelter. In some places, people are deprived of internet, access to social media, etc. These are still termed as poverty but relative in nature. However, there is a type of poverty, which is uniformly common throughout the globe or at least at places where it managed to make a colony. It is perceptional poverty which get subsistence from the uncontrolled expectation.

Seneca, Roman stoic philosopher once said, "It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor." Craving or uncontrolled expectation is the creeping foundation at which ugly castle of perceptional poverty exists. If foundation has no existence, castle have no existence, either. Perceptional poverty is not true poverty but inflict similar pain of poverty. Probably, it is not at all a poverty but perceived as poverty of same size, colour, and dimension of true poverty. It is like unsatiated thirst or unrequited love where desire to seek something else, which is, of course, illusional in nature, is stronger than to seek the true need.

So, the questions pop up: how cravings or uncontrolled expectations kick in. In fact, we as human do not know. Not easy to comprehend. If we know and observe consciously, probably, cravings will not originate at first place. It comes sneakingly, tempt us to ride on its cushioned back, and we feel dejected and fallen apart as we become aware about where we are! However, the point is not to keep observing our behaviour every minute and second. It may not be possible either without draining our vital energy. Certainly, we can do such observation selectively at moment or places at which cravings, generally, kick in. 

At this point of time in human development, there are numerous decoys developed due to either natural course or deliberately designed for cravings to originate. Such traps could be environment like shopping malls, shops, movie theatre with twinkling sensation of aroma, music, light which evoke the memory of good times, embedded commands in form of advertisements, social media indulging human for grossly exposure to unrealistic world and infusing a sense of insecurity and deprivation. Environment plays a key role in moulding our behaviour in their way. Typically, shopping malls, shops, and bars are designed with features but could not be limited to lights, music, even geometry which evoke the memory of good times. We have innate inclination to colour ourselves in the light of surroundings. If something fake falsifying is blatantly displayed as great convincingly, we are inclined to behave that way. There was an interesting study carried out in University of California to understand interpersonal dynamics in a simulated prison environment. In the study, half of the volunteers were acted as prison workers, and other half acted as prison inmates. Results were astounding. Previously tested to psychologically sound people, the participants (inmates and guards) became increasingly hostile, crude, rebellious and abusive. One of prison inmates became so hysterical and emotionally distressed that experiment was called off in one week instead of planned duration of two weeks. All data lead to the conclusion that this simulated prison developed into a compelling prison environment, and as such, it elicited intense pathological reactions from the participants. A loss of personal identity by the prisoners and the arbitrary control of their behaviour resulted in a syndrome characterized by passivity, dependency, depression, and helplessness.

Embedded commands in form of advertisements, social media indulging human for grossly exposure to unrealistic world and infusing a sense of insecurity and deprivation. Embedded commands like "buy now", how great you are!", or "enjoy life" are kind of auto suggestions which changes our attitudes or beliefs unnoticeably and subconscious mind create internal realities in form of cravings, expectations to align with the such command. Social media often adds fuel to such fire.  The University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine conducted a study and found a few disturbing trends. Study participants who spent the most time on social media each day were 2.2 times more likely to report that they had issues with body image and eating. Contrary to that, participants who spent less time on social media did not report those concerns.

Couple of days ago, during the festive season of Christmas and New year 2020, I, along with my wife and daughter, was sitting idle at home during the seasonal blip of holiday. It all started with bringing our little daughter to outside as she was getting cranky at home. We went to a shopping mall, which is home of all kind of necessary and unnecessary shops along with playground for the kids. We were welcomed by lights, hung around giant Christmas tree, dimming and glowing at a usual pace. Tree was covered with red leaflet calligraphed "Season of Love."  Some of leaflets were still hanging and displaying what season we are in, some were fallen apart, and some were trampled and crumpled under the reckless feet of shoppers.

We held an escalator and kept inching up in its metallic, melodious, and thudding sound and reached fourth floor, where children playground was located. My daughter with giggling face started climbing the ladder for the joy of spiral slide and we became busy with our mobile in clicking pictures of her and ours. While keeping an eye on her, our eyes were pulled by large billboard. We could see "Sale, Sale, Sale, up to 80% off" marked in red bold fonts. Height of the fonts were almost that of a human adult. We took a leisurely stroll to see what outlet has to offer and waited and went in one fitting room to another. It was almost couple of hours and time to be back home. While placing stroller and multiple bags of clothes in the boot of taxi, I felt tired with the tinging numbness of nothing but being poor.


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