Habeeb Ahamed

The likes and dislikes

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Is it a survival device that evolution has equipped us with?

Paradoxically, not all the people we know and meet, we like. We dislike some. Liking and disliking a person is not always connected to a person being good or bad. In fact, there are people who have not hurt or harmed, but we don’t like them. So also, there are people who have not done any good or favour to us, but we still like them. There is an extent of factors that can make a person be liked or disliked.

Let all this in hermetic isolation. In consequence, the factors that play into our behaviour attribute our own feelings towards the other person; obviously, the other person must be having the same feelings or traits towards us.

I remember it well. In Anand, Rajesh Khanna would smack people from behind and address them as ‘Murari Lal’ and invite him to have a conversation. The person he approaches with immense gusto turns back to him and fails to recognise him. The rest of it is a different story. While reasoning out to Amitabh Bachchan his crazy approach, Rajesh Khanna explains a theory of attraction in his own chic. He says every person has an inbuilt transmitter and a receiver. If the transmitter of one person transmits a vibration and it is received by the other, a ‘liking’ flickers between the two. For this to happen, it is not necessary to have known each other.

Explicitly, every person would have met at some point someone he or she instantly disliked. Someone they didn’t even know existed until that moment but who they can’t wait to get away from. So also there is the flip side to it. Many of us would have met someone for the first time and felt so comfortable with them they end up talking for hours as if they are catching up on old times. Pragmatically speaking, a person is a person, and kinship is not an exception.

Tranquillity shattered

As a matter of fact, I evade a close relative of mine. He does not impress me. It doesn’t mean he has any odious qualities. But still, his very appearance or presence shatters my tranquillity. In such cases the disharmony can become a millstone slung heavily about the neck, grinding away the innards and fraying the nerves.

The reason is illogical. Perhaps it might be a small thing but the pars prototo mechanism comes into play, and a nose, a mannerism, a turn of phrase, can be enough.

Our innate inclinations are, however, few and simple, and most of our likes and dislikes are acquired from experiences of pleasure and pain, or displeasure. In all probability, this like and dislike is some kind of survival device that evolution has equipped us with. Being able to make a rapid assumption about the possible threat of other life forms or situations is the key to survival.

We make rapid and reliable assumptions all the time. But are these instantaneous responses (pertaining to like/dislike), nothing more than left over and misplaced instincts from our cave-dwelling days?

So long as the penchant helps us distance ourselves from trouble instead of putting us “wide open” to be hurt and disappointed, let’s welcome it.

Courtesy The Hindu

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