Thoondal: The “Plague of Sameness”

Sea of SamenessWritten By: Shayanika Suresh

According to Zita Cobb, “there’s a plague of sameness that is killing human joy”. Zita Cobb, is the founder of Shorefast Foundation, which has been working towards building a sustainable economy on Fogo Island, Newfoundland. Zita Cobb’s story of success, dedication, and love for her homeplace is astounding, and a must-hear. But I want to dig a little deeper.

When I read an interview of Cobb in which she refers to the “plague of sameness”, I was really intrigued by the phrase. That simple phrase is able to encompass many of the large, overbearing concepts that dominate modern society. Globalization, diversity, discrimination, culture, religion, just to name a few, have all, in one way or another, led to the structuring of societal norms that determine our lifestyles.

We are expected to behave in a certain way, dress in a specific manner, and socialize with particular groups of people. We watch the same shows, and we drive the same cars. We are cut out to being exactly like each other. That is the gist of globalization.

What’s the problem with that, you may ask? After all, our differences are being merged. But, is it really necessary that we lose our diversity in order to be included in society? It is a huge misconception to think that increasing sameness amongst ourselves will in effect make things better! The impact of increasing sameness, as Cobb observes, is nothing less than the “killing of human joy”.

Yet, that has all been said. Iwan Baan’s TED Talk titled ‘Ingenious Homes in Unexpected Places’, on the other hand, really questions the idea of societal norm in a very specific way. Home, to us, as we have been taught, is a place where we live. It is usually described as a square two-storey building, with a triangular roof, two square windows and a door. This was the image that I drew as a small child, whenever I was asked to draw home. This was despite the fact that I was born in Sri Lanka and bred in Nigeria, where more often than not, houses were sheds built with twigs and leaves.

Iwan Baan brings new light to our idea of home. His photos depicting homes built by ordinary people in extraordinary places – inside incomplete construction sites, on a lagoon, amidst garbage – really question my boring old square home. The creativity of mankind really shines when our norms are broken. When we are forced to find new ways to live, to survive, we truly are able to be inventive to suit our own likes and dislikes. Question the norms around you, there’s no harm in that! Do they make sense, do you agree with them? If you do, then just keep following. But if you don’t, go ahead and create your own norms. Your life, your game, and only you can choose how to play it!

Check out Iwan Baan’s talk:

About the Author:

Shayanika Suresh is a Law Graduate currently working on establishing her legal career. She is also a passionate writer and has self-published a collection of short stories, “Lips no longer sealed”. Shayanika’s passion to raise awareness of various social issues that affect individuals and society as a whole is evident in her work, leaving a message for the reader to take home.

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