Religion as Science Fiction

I’ve always grappled with religion and its role in my life and others around me. I’ve gone from somewhat religious to being Agnostic to Agnostic-Atheist. As far as I am concerned, my own relationship with religion is bitter. I can never have a problem with someone being religious though, that is their prerogative and if they derive some benefits from it then good for them. What is a problem though is when they try to impose and defend this imposition for purely emotional reasons and sometimes financial. But that’s not what i want to write about right now.

I was browsing a bookstore and while browsing through the Fiction and Science Fiction shelves i almost didn’t realize that religious books for some reason intentionally or unintentionally were placed in the Science Fiction section and I found it quite hilarious. Whether purposeful or just some mistake, its a nice subtle jab.

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When you see it…

It also got me thinking again about the topic I’ve pondered over many times in life and have seen it explored many times in various media as well : Religion as Science Fiction. What if religion was just a bunch of made up stories from those eras and somehow over the years it morphed into some sort of global fandom which follows different versions of the same story and tries to defend their version as the true one. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Most religious texts and stories are similar if not same. They all say pretty much the same thing with the only difference being that they’re coming from different texts from different eras and different people. Some religions are extinct but their texts and stories survive. The few things that separate religion from any other form of media is that it plays an active role in daily life and many millions of people derive some form of spiritual fulfillment and often believe their gods to exist in some form. Many even consider their religious texts as ┬ásome sort of a guide to life and consider as their philosophy.

So I guess it won’t be entirely wrong to consider followers of any religion as a fandom of that particular religion. And as is the case with many fandoms of various kind of media, they can get highly destructive and toxic because they consider the media property they follow to be something sacred and not to be messed with because it will ruin the essence of it even though its not their own property. They’re just emotionally and sometimes financially invested in it but are not its owners or creators. Rick & Morty, Jainism, Sherlock, Islam, Game of Thrones, Hinduism. All of them are prime examples of this destructive, toxic behavior by fans and followers. There are many more but these are what I have personally experienced. I guess this is a large topic – Similarities between fandoms and followers of religions. The gist being that its the same type of behavior more or less.

Religion isn’t a problem, its the followers and their own interpretations of everything surrounding it. And often different parts of the world interpret the same texts differently too. This is because there is no consensus on any kind on what text or what interpretation is “right” or even standard. Maybe that’s why it has such a universal appeal, anyone can interpret it as they want. This is a double-edged sword and history has shown how it can hurt too.

 

Shopping for Electronics

I recently went shopping for a washing machine. Our decades old legendary Hitachi finally breaking down often, we decided this was the best time to get one. In any other household, this would have been easier because of past experiences of brands, shops and after sales services. In our case, we were buying a washing machine after almost half a century. Yeah. All hail the Hitachi PAF-820.

How this thing came into being is forgotten now but as per my dad, he bought this beast when he was traveling through Singapore and Malaysia sometime in the 70s. This thing has NEVER broken down in all these years. Not once. We’ve never had to call for repairs all these years. It kept doing its job everyday without fail and without breakdown. Such things are unheard of in today’s day when home electronics don’t last beyond 5-10 years depending on what it is. Anecdotes from relatives and friends heard over the years is that Air conditioners and fridges typically last a decade or less, Televisions get problematic withing 5 years, washing machines between 5-7 years, irons last anywhere between 2-5 years. Our washing machine has broken all sorts of estimates.

When you want to buy something like this for the first time, you tend to ask a few people so you get a general idea of what to expect and its generally a good thing to do in a country like India because not only do you get a general review of the product but also the manufacturer, the after sales, the shop you buy it from, offers, discounts, etc etc. All this information would be fantastic if it wasn’t full of biases, outright lies, misinformation, lack of technical knowledge, buyers remorse and what not.

Its often tiring to weed through all this and find some grain of truth because once you ask someone they inundate you with all this and more. And it doesn’t stop. These things are often a topic of general talk and debate in family gatherings. My mom must have casually mentioned that we might need a new machine soon and pretty much all the people in that room had their washing machine bible ready and started suggesting the instant she finished that sentence. I get that they’re trying to help. But most of them don’t understand what they’re talking about. I have seen a pattern to these discussions where various biases for various things often get mixed up and shared. Some examples –

  1. The Retailer – The retailer is the first target of any kind of bias because you have to first go visit a few retailers to get a general idea for the various models, prices, offers, discounts, after sales (from the retailers side) and everything else. As per many people I know, if a retailer fails to provide – a good discount, a good price, a good offer, freebies, extra after sales, timely delivery (in any order) they’re bad forever. FOREVER. Its a forbidden place now. Apparently you won’t get ANY good deals on ANYTHING henceforth and you should stay away from this place FOREVER as if it has the plague. Hyperbole, I know. But this is what some genuinely believe. Reliance, Croma, Next, Vijay Sales or the local shop all suck because THEY could not get the required deal and the other place, which is either Croma, Next, Vijay Sales or some other local shop, is good because they gave you what you wanted. Basically all retailers suck and all retailers are amazing at the same time.
  2. The Manufacturer – After seeing the choices you ask which brand is best and everyone will again give different answers. Some of the answers are downright weird like my all time favorite shit argument “the products of X brand suck now because its made in China now instead of Japan/Korea/Taiwan/Germany/USA” and my next favorite shit argument “It sucks because I had a bad experience X number of years ago and therefore you should stay away from them too”. Apparently Samsung is good now because everyone knows and buys Samsung phones. LG is always something you buy after you don’t get your primary choice. Whirlpool and Voltas are something you don’t even consider till you see the price differences because their branding is such. Siemens, Bosch are something you don’t even remember exists because zilch marketing and are good because German. Then there are those forgettable in-store brands which are just branded Chinese imports. People often forget that just because their Samsung phone is top notch doesn’t mean their ACs, fridges and washing machines would be the same. These shit tier per-concieved notions often make it difficult to purchase anything.
  3. Idiotic Beliefs & Practices – If all of the above was not enough, there are ignorant, baseless and downright stupid arguments that get thrown around as a counter argument to buying certain kinds of electronic items. The most popular target is the microwave. Retarded arguments like Microwaves cause cancer and what not are always discussed by misinformed and ignorant people who parrot whatever they heard by other such people without questioning it. Another popular target is the cell phone. Televisions were a prime target back in the CRT days. WhatsApp copy pastas are often shared about these things. When these types of points are discussed, you know its time to keep quiet and move on to a different topic altogether because the original point has been lost.

I just keep quiet for most of such discussions because it is futile to correct people’s misconceptions if they are not willing to be open minded. Yes, I do speak when there is a chance that someone will appreciate what I have to share. After much thought, we bought a Siemens front load washing machine after ignoring much of what people said.

To keep it simple, keep quiet and enjoy the popcorn. Do your own research and buy what is best for you. It’s your money after all!