It’s no wonder that everything in my country is so incentive-based that when someone wants to do something for someone else’s benefit, the benefactor wants a certain extra benefit also. There is a constant expectation from fellow humans to document and promote them for what they do or don’t bring to the table. The need to be “featured” is so all-consuming that we have lost touch with reality.
From small-time celebrities to big-time influencers, the word “feature” and the expression “feature me” are so flagrantly used that they have lost all meaning. We have also lost perspective. Do we deserve to be featured? This is a question that should precede our call to action.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. Pakistanis feature everything. They openly tell people how much they pay in Zakat and loudly give away food and clothes to the needy. This culture has deep roots in the scarcity mindset and the poorly constructed class system that the Pakistanis so proudly consider their salvation. Unfortunately the more our country requires moderate socialism, the more we emerge as a rightwing capitalist nation.
Nothing that we do is without an ulterior motive. Even religion is practiced with some form of reward in the hereafter. A religion that is based purely in intention, has its followers largely viewing their good deeds as some form of credit. They are collecting it to avoid hellfire.
Even marriages are adulterated by our fake altruism. Every woman in this country is inferior to the man she is married to. Every married woman is reminded how lucky she is to be married. Every time a man chooses a woman, he wants everyone to feature him as a great guy who compromised over his ten demands to marry someone so beneath him. Even when she’s not less, she is always the less featured partner of a marriage.
So this culture has seeped into all aspects of our society. We have become petty and openly shameless in asking for recognition. Subtly or boldly we remind people of what their gift to us should be based on what our gift to them was. We open presents before the guests leave at parties. We don’t like to cook at home anymore because that food can’t be the “feature” of a party.
The need and want to be the centerpiece of everything is probably almost genetic at this point because it has been rampant for ages. Our political leaders are so inflated with their own importance that whatever road or street they sanction during their tenure is named after them.
But sadly this need has caused an unfair gradient between people who really work for a cause and people who only want to be featured for that cause. People who are altruistic are getting shortchanged while more cunning, more calculating and people with more situational awareness than the human race requires are getting ahead. This is causing a huge chunk of Pakistan’s professional and intellectual force to leave Pakistan in search for places where they’d be recognized for their work without compromising on their values. Where they won’t have to worry about business models if they want to run an art gallery. Where PR won’t determine how high they land on the pyramid of success. Where they’ll get “likes” for their work and not because they “featured” the person who “liked” their work.
Give it up, Pakistanis! You’ll lose a lot of valuable intellectual property with these shenanigans.