Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cyber Underdogs

When I was small I learnt an important lesson through sheer accident. And the lesson was that the “underdog” always gets public support. Even if the ‘underdog’ was pretending to be the underdog and was actually the villain of the piece, he/she will always get support because people love to take up for the ‘underdog’.

As a kid I realized that I was no match for my arch rival, my second brother M. Like a true brother, M loved annoying me and making me scream. And when I lashed out at him in anger; he would merely hold my hand and fend me off while I tried to wildly kick him. And while all my effort to kick, scratch and pull his hair went in vain, I had the double ignominy of watching him grin triumphantly. So I did what I had to do. I screamed. Because I realized screaming and sobbing when the elders arrived running from all corners of the house made them annoyed enough to give my brother a ticking off!! :p

It was very satisfying to watch my arch rival get a ticking off for troubling “your poor helpless baby sister” and “bullying a small girl?” etc. ( One of the few advantages of being the youngest in the house is that you remain the ‘baby’ of the house till eternity) It was lack of creativity that drove me to this novel method while I could actually get back at him by merely ignoring him!! But like millions of sisters worldwide I too fell for the bait specifically designed to irritate me :)

Supporting the underdog or the “underdog” syndrome, is so powerful that most of us get swept by it. I broke out of this syndrome when a couple of instances of blind loyalty to my friends made me ignore the “other side of the story” leading to some very red face when I realized that the person I had defended was the actual culprit! Since then I have become the ‘devils advocate’. But then I am not entirely infallible. I do get taken in by sob stories initially till good ‘ol common sense kicks in or gives me a solid kick.

Off late I have come across some people/bloggers who use the “underdog syndrome” to great effect. They craft stories based on their lives in which they are shown as an underdog, while the other characters of the story are strategically characterized so that that readers like hypnotized zombies hate/love/sympathize with these characters according to the writer’s design. Soon the 'underdog' gets sympathy and support and a large number of 'protective' and sympathetic fans. If a stray reader were to raise a question about the ‘sob story’ he/she is immediately looked upon by horror by the others readers like thief found stealing from a frail old lady.

The feeling of protectiveness is so strong, that the readers will not tolerate any voice of dissent against the ‘underdog”, i.e the writer. Many of these readers will go out of their way to help the ‘underdog’. The ‘underdog’ becomes an icon. If someone starts questioning the story of the ‘underdog’… the writer who is a master in this game will play the part of the ‘poor accused’ well by taking the questions/accusation gracefully and thus raking in more supporters.

Politicians and leaders, ordinary people, younger siblings [:p] have all used this ‘trick’ to great effect. It is high time we shed the herd mentality and looked at both sides of the coin whether it is a news item or a Blog. There is always an ‘other’ side of the story.

The World Wide Web is happy hunting ground for such pseudo “underdogs”. All with private agendas of their own. Be careful of people and causes you espouse.


Rockus said...

Yup...there are a lot of pseudo underdogs around and lot of surrounding sympathizers...Some people would never realize that they are rallying behind the wrong person...

Anonymous said...

Silverine, agree with Rockus. Very thought provoking post. I know one such sob story!!

Alexis said...

You said it. There are who manipulate the situations to suit their needs and in that process gain support and sympathy.

But the sad fact is that, most of the time, the pseudo underdogs get away with their act.

So as you have mentioned it is better to wait, watch and then take sides (if necessary); not 100% foolproof, but better than being blinded by emotional manipulation and black mailing.

Fleiger said...

Would like to know where this came from...

But I am here on behalf of "Younger Sibling Association" to tell you that giving out the secrets of our brethren in the association is an act against our rules, and can result in immediate termination of your membership, unless requested through proper channels.

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

It doesn't matter if you really are the underdog, if the perception is of you being one, you'll get all the privileges of an underdog. Now there are a lot of pseudo underdogs around and they all get their bunch of cheerleaders! We've got all kinds of people vying for the underdog tag frm gr8 Kapil Dev to the nukkad dukandaar fighting against Big Bazaar and Reliance Fresh!

silverine said...

rockus: Very very true!

Anon: When you look around you will find many such sob stories disguised under the garb of 'true stories'.

Alexis: You are so right....most of the time these people get away. What is ridiculous is that the supporters will even carry out illegal activities for these underdogs and think they are doing a good deed!

flieger: OMG!!! Please to forgive me :(

Abhi: Very good observations. Clearly "underdog" is the flavor of the season for manipulators :)

Fleiger said...

Your (type-)written apology is noted.

And you forgot one major player of the game, professional beggars.

And I ask again, what's the cause?

silverine said...

Thanks to all the Anons who posted a comment here. I have not published the comments so that this doesn't become a wild goose chase. And some of the comments were hilarious!!! :)) Thank you all!!

Annie said...

You should have titled this post Pseudo-documentaries of life.

Not original but close ;-)

mathew said...

To all "Underdogs"..

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever, is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.
~Philippians 4:8

Anonymous said...

There is this blog I used to follow religiously, till I found out that the story was a fake. She is a good writer nevertheless. Wish she hadn't publicized it as a true story though.


silverine said...

fleiger; Professional beggars are another menace!!

Annie: lol!!

Mathew: That sums up everything so neatly!!

Anon: Some of the stories are quite good actually.

Chacko Cherian said...

hmmm there are several such sites that has a long, sad story about victimisation from family,govt etc. As the initial entries are framed, not only should your heart be wrenched at the story tellers misery (which is peppered with tragedy), but you should also feel inflamed with rage that he/she would visit these memories. In case you need a reality check to see just how abnormal these stories are, not in terms of family
brutality, but in terms of the protagonist being unusually humane — probably too humane to be real.
Life is harsh and people including kids get hurt. But for people to run a story that wallows in it's victimhood without providing a stronger dose of context (in these sob stories the context is weak), is just well — typical.

Good post.

Venkateshwar Sahai said...

point well made :)
but still can't helping feel for the underdog..
there is only one exception for me though... i always support federer :)

nasia said...

First of all..
being an underdog.. or acting as one.. has only a single advantage.. to get sympathy from others...

and believe me.. its of no use, in the long run!

pophabhi said...

Got where you were headed. The writing and support part's been true.
Out of the context - Underdog or not, I support Indian team :).

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

It is high time we shed the herd mentality and looked at both sides of the coin whether it is a news item or a Blog. There is always an ‘other’ side of the story.
It would almost seem like i'd paraphrased you in one of my earlier comments! Honestly, I hadn't read this post until now :) Anyways, this also quells my surprise on your accepting my opposite views to most of the posts :) I really appreciate this broad-mindedness.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure whether u've read sarah's blog( daughter's of tomorrow.)..i used to get the feeling tat she use's the 'underdog syndrome' when i read some posts