Negative Culture of Backbiting

Nasih Ul Wadud Alam

19 June, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Negative Culture of Backbiting

Nasih Ul Wadud Alam

Backbiting is our favourite pastime. We immerse ourselves in it; we find joy in belittling others in their absence. Who does not do it? I will be a big liar if I proclaim that I don't do it. Obviously, I speak ill of others when they are not present. I promise myself everyday that I won't do it. By the course of a day, old habits creep in. Despite knowing that backbiting is not something we should appreciate, we prefer eating our brother's flesh to speaking positively of others.

In our country, we tend to spend too much time with other people. I am not saying that we should stop socialising. There are also some detriments of socialisation. In Rabindra Sarobar at Dhanmondi, lots of young and old people jog around. Some do it alone, some walk in a pack. Instead of walking, many oldies are more interested in chatting. They are still overweight. They aren't health conscious. I hear my Chattogram joggers talking ill of their core family members, friends and colleagues. We walk to refresh our mind but speaking ill of others does not make our brain active with positive thoughts.

At the same in Rabindra Sarobar, some people attend yoga classes for rejuvenation in the twilight of their lives. Human beings need to utilise their own time and space. If we don't make it productive, our brain will get polluted with negative thoughts. Adda, once in a while, is good but if we do it everyday, then I am very sure that nothing productive will come out of it. Backbiting starts then. Adda should have a space too.

Backbiting has no particular setting. We can criticise the absent person in front of the present listener/s at any time and in any place. After we leave that place, somebody else may start finding our faults and discussing them gleefully and indignantly with others. Developing this negative culture in workplaces is very harmful. Then, colleagues will mistrust other colleagues. In my previous workplace, many teachers were busy in toppling one another and jostling for posts and positions. Instead of teaching courses regularly, they were involved in gathering cliques. Barring some dedicated teachers, others were least bothered about students' session-jams.

Although, I have only ten months experience of public university teaching, I still feel it is good enough to sum up the situations. I think, government needs to think twice about inaugurating new universities in mufassil areas, where teachers having nothing else to do, mired in internal politics; as a result of which students suffer. There are also some cronies ready to serve their teachers for any ill purposes. All starts from backbiting.

I think, we should have more libraries with a variety of academic books. That can reduce our negative thoughts. Vice-chancellors are busy in cementing their own positions and saving their own dignities at any cost.  Refurbishing the structure of universities is the last thing on their mind. Problems arise when they don't want to think about others' welfare. The shortage of libraries results in the lack of ideations for which both private and public universities suffer.

Whether we like it or not – it is human nature to backbite. We boost our deflated ego by speaking ill of others. When we become envious of others' success, we vilify those people behind their back. Interestingly, many grumpy people who look for loopholes in the structured system say nothing in front of the pioneer of that structure. I have seen many people criticising some particular person but when it comes to meeting or having a face to face discussion, then they say nothing and do nothing but praise them doggedly.

In front of the people they criticise, they behave like submissive cats. When the powerful people are not present, they become cornered tigers. This is how a society is being run. There is also a reason. We have entered into a maze where blunt expression is seen as insolence. As a result, many people are afraid of questioning the authority. They don't raise their voice. The lack of open discussions is a hindrance to any organisation's development.

Backbiting is rooted in our culture. I am not immune to it. Is it healthy that we carry on highlighting others negatively when they are not present? The lack of directness is one of the reasons for the increasing number of backbiters. We should encourage the culture of speaking our minds but in a polite manner. There is nothing wrong in raising voice against the establishment. If we want a society to flourish, it is important for us to accept heterogeneous expressions.

We should get rid of our age old habits and focus on transferring our negative ideas into positive deeds. We should keep our minds busy with creative works, extracurricular activities, reading books and following our religious creed. Therefore, the next time we meet our fellow joggers we should talk less about people and more about interesting things about the world.

We should not shy away from our discussion of grand-narratives. The more we think about the world, the better it is going to be for the development of our soul. We need to feed our soul with our inquisitive minds. Otherwise, it is better to jog alone and think through things alone amidst the wireless world. There are plenty of things in the world we don't know yet. No knowledge is enough to fill up the blank. But we should continue to learn more without underestimating others. The less we talk ill of others, the better it is for everyone connected to this world. We need to purify our souls.

In between the last five hours that I wrote this article, revised it, slept for almost an hour and half, I have had two sessions of backbiting already. Always dual minded!


The writer is lecturer, department of English, Chittagong Independent University.