Living a Loser’s Life in a Winner Take All World

Photo by Edu Lauton on Unsplash

Look around and you would see that the world celebrates winners and hates losers. Whether they are obscenely rich Oligarchs, whose wealth grows exponentially even during the pandemic, while the rest suffer, or whether they are our Supreme Leaders who are deified and feted and whose every move is recorded for posterity by a fawning media, ever ready to please. We also glorify the Uber successful sports personalities, to the point of worshiping them, and the same goes for our celluloid heroes. Never mind if we they are False Gods and people whose feet is made of clay instead of the Stardust that we suppose they spread.

So, what happens to the rest of us? Those who barely scraped through college, worked listlessly in careers when our hearts were elsewhere, and those whose only claim to fame might be that they plodded through life. While this might seem uncharitable to the many little successes and joys that make life worthwhile and each life equally precious, my larger point is what about the Silent Majority, when a Tiny Minority garners all the benefits. When rampant inequality means that the Top 1% owns as much as the Bottom 60%? When success means being in that elusive club of achievers who are so tiny in number that they resemble an exclusive Pantheon that bars entry to even those wannabes, who are equally successful, but, for some reason or the other fail to be the Winners Who Take All.

Technology was supposed to equalize us. However, when success is measured by the Number of Followers on Social Media, and that too, when such Fan Base is in the Millions, what about Mere Mortals, who can only boast of such numbers in their dreams. More so, when Big Tech resembles the New Gilded Age version of Robber Barons, and the same can be said of any one of the Uber Rich. When Making It is like a Funnel that sieves out all, but the few, who are lucky enough, or smart enough, to reach where they are.

Hey! This is not a screed against achievement. Rather, my point is that we, as a society, ought to spread our net wider and democratize the catch so that there is a true shot at equality. After all, a nation of Billion Plus people cannot have a handful garnering all the wealth, or all the fame, depending on how you view it. In short, we need more Winners, and that too, we do not need to look farther, but, look at the ones from whose hands the Cup Slippeth. In other words, there are Millions of Winners, and instead of narrowing the field, we need to look beyond the horizon and pick more of them.

A truly just society would not place that much of an emphasis on being first all the time. No matter if you were feted in school for coming in last. The point is that one does not need constant bombardment of the Very Few and instead, feet the Millions of those who make the former what they are. One does not become a Loser if one Missed the Bus by seconds. Rather, wait for everyone to board and take all along and spread the joy of egalitarianism.

The Pandemic has forced all of us to reexamine our assumptions about success, wealth, and what it means to live in a Winner Take All World. Witness the desperate pleas for beds and Oxygen, even from the Well Heeled and you would realize how we have put too much faith in being Uber successful. Does this country not belong to those who are moderately or for that matter, famous enough in normal times, to the point that only the 1% matter, and not anyone else?

Are the rest Children of a Lesser God where the presiding deity is one who bestows munificence only on select devotees and the rest have to contend with a distant audience? What about our much vaunted Desis abroad, who had to become Call Centers, when their loved ones needed help with medicines, tests, and hospital admissions, and when their whole wealth and connections came to nothing?

So, how does one become a Loser overnight, begging for beds and drugs for loved ones, when one had everything going for them just before the pandemic. See the plight of those pinging Apps frenetically for vaccination slots, and the mockery we have made of the process by having Apps that Ping the Apps for alerts about vacant slots. Are we headed into an Abyss of Loserdom, where success is for a niche that have somehow managed to climb out of it?

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