Chetan Bhagat's 'No More Explanations' policy is one many writers, commentators feel compelled to adopt

Last month, Chetan Bhagat introduced his No More Explanations Policy (NMEP). He wrote that whenever he tried to explain his views, “it only made things worse.”

This appeared to stem from his interactions on social media, especially Twitter. "My views on the economy and policy are consistent," he wrote, "and if you actually were inclined to listen and learn I would have explained so."

"However... You feel exposed and threatened and outrage even more — because obviously admitting you were wrong is something you never do on Twitter," he wrote.

Chetan Bhagat. AFP/File Photo

Chetan Bhagat. AFP/File Photo

Kamala Thiagarajan, a freelance journalist based in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, says, she "understand[s] how some writers feel that explanations are emotionally exhausting and that they need to have their say without constantly having to defend their views."

“We live in an era of trial by social media and widespread trolling," she says. "Writers and journalists [are] being increasingly targetted today and harassed for just doing their jobs."

As an "opinionated" yet "fairy thin-skinned person", a Bengaluru-based freelance journalist says she "would love the freedom to write without having to explain myself.”

It's not that she doesn't want to engage in a discussion, or entertain opposite view points, she says. "But people respond to a different perspective with aggression, snark and condescension... I tend to shrink during confrontations. I don't have an appetite for conflict," she explains.

'Write such that it can't be appropriated'

“The central challenge for any expression is to fix it in such specifics that it can't be appropriated," says author Amandeep Sandhu who regularly contributes socio-political commentary to DailyO. Especially in these times when people often "mis-read, mis-see, mis-hear", he says.

“By conviction a writer, any writer, is alone and does not play to a gallery. As a writer I try to be meaningful, inform readers of context (specifics), expand the scope of a topic, develop a line of argument that more people can participate, some meaning is created, everybody gains, at least gets to reflect."

"Once my writing is out, it belongs to the world... The world has a right to attribute any idea to it, provided the argument stands," he explains.

So he "never felt the need to explain" for both his political commentary and fiction books.

Discussion v/s trolling

“Elaborating on one's point of view is welcome only when dialogue/conversation that is initiated around any subject is open-minded, and when there is mutual respect, even when the issues concerned are being hotly debated," says Thiagarajan.

“If I gently respond or explain my point, they almost think he's fair game to be a punching bag," Bhagat wrote in his Facebook post, hinting at trolling by Twitter users.

In March, Twitter launched an initiative to figure out what it means to be a healthy social network in 2018. CEO Jack Dorsey acknowledged in a series of tweets that his company didn’t “fully predict or understand the real-world negative consequences” of how the platform was designed, like harassment, trolls, bots, and other forms of abuse.

“Our nation is so sharply polarised along political lines that extreme intolerance to any point of view that doesn't match one's own is growing, setting into our system like a disease," says Thiagarajan.

'Commenting on one's own creative writing is superfluous'

Author Tabish Khair who also writes a column for The Hindu, says that creative writing — unlike journalistic or academic writing — "can be reviewed critically but not forced to respond on".

"There is a difference," he says. “Once I have published a story or a poem, I have said all I can and want to say — in and as that text.”

“I find the job of commenting on your own creative writing not just tiring but totally superfluous."

He says he wishes to publish anonymously "in these hyperventilating times" and "with literary scene largely hijacked by society types".

The arbiters of literary taste are no longer writers or readers, but 'society' people, he says. "TV hosts, film stars, agents, publicity people, festival organisers etc."

"Institutional prestige has always translated as literary prestige in the short term. But it has increased [in recent times], because of increasing commercialisation."

"These people usually have a certain preference for certain kinds of literature," he adds.

Creative texts are written by you for a reader, and the only relationship you have to your reader, who might live a 1,000 kilometers away or 500 years later, is through the written text. Anything else reduces the writer, the reader and the writing — all three.”


Updated Date: Jun 18, 2018 19:39 PM

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