What would you do, when you see a gorgeous lush waterfall on a weekend get-away? Click it course! And then? Post it on FB/ Twitter – obviously! Exactly. That is what we do now-a-days, right! Atleast that is what I do or did, before the contemplation hit hard enough to write this piece.
A hectic week lead to an equally enchanted weekend in the beautiful rain-kissed Moonar in Kerala, some time back. Clicked a lot of pictures and then did the obvious – posted some of them spot-on to Twitter and the whole album on FB (within 15 minutes of returning to the hotel.) And ofcourse kept updating statues throughout the trip about my observations and explorations; I can swear that I may have missed out a few things because I was typing away, head bent.
Later on after the self inflicted ecstasy owing to all the likes, comments, retweets and replies, just a random question pops up, you know like those twinkling screensaver pop-ups, “what would I have done if I had taken this trip may be 7 years back? How would I have attained this state of mindless happiness?” And the answer would be a - scrapbook. The ‘statues’ would be the handwritten memoirs, the ‘retweets’ and ‘comments’ would be verbally by the elite friends and relatives who can have access to the scrapbook.
Ok reality time. Nothing is ‘exclusive’ now! Everyone has access to everything. The RTI act applies in all our lives and that too voluntarily, nobody even needs to file a request – we are dying to tell anyone who can hear, oopps can see, actually. Social media has helped evolve a very different side in our personalities. Though it could not change that part of us which gets irritated if our neighbourhood aunty even enquires where we are working or where we were over the weekend but it has definitely made us want to share our lives with the world at large. Though we still scowl if someone asks us for directions when we are hurrying to the movie theatre, with just 5 minutes left for the show to start, but atleast we do not mind if people ask us questions, directions even lifts on ours ‘walls’ and ‘timelines’.
So is social media making better human beings of us? In a sense maybe because one of the biggest YIN of being on social media apart from being abreast with GK in real-time (when we were kids we said in social discussions, ‘yes I read it in the TOI, my youngest cousin now says yes I read it on Twitter’) is that we have less frustrated people around because through ‘statues’ we are actually venting – happiness, sadness, anger, frustration – you name it. Human beings by virtue of their psychological evolution want to just say their things (events, feelings, reactions) to someone. Infact we really do not want to say most of the things to anyone in particular, we will be content by saying it to just about anyone. We just want to say it, just want to get it out of the system and that is where social media comes in. So in a sense apart from being connected to people - known and unknown, from being traceable by anyone who wants to find you, from opening up every living worth-mentionable moment to anyone who wants to know, social media is also creating people who would be in better relationships because they are less angry, less frustrated and more vented.
So all izz well? Not really! An elderly lady of around 80, about a fortnight back, when I was at a funeral asked me where did I stay. When I told her she said, ‘ok, that is why. I saw you in the bus. We travelled together, remember?’ I looked at her with searching eyes because I could not even recollect seeing her and finally muttered, half embarrassed – half unsure, ‘ok, I did not notice.’ A woman old enough to be my grandmother remembers me but I did not because I was busy checking tweets and updating my status about how horrible the road and the bus ride is! All I remember of my co-passenger is a green sari because that was the only thing visible with my head down! That is the YANG side. Whatever we are doing - travelling in a bus or train, waiting in a lounge, even walking on the footpath – our heads are down! No not in shame, really. We all are busy checking our handsets for statues, tweets, likes, comments, retweets, replies, favourites etc etc.
So putting it in perspective, social media makes better human beings of us but human beings who live more in the virtual world. Like in my case I was busy knowing how are the rains and traffic in Mumbai getting along, and as you by now know I did not even glance at my co-passenger. If she had flicked anything off me I would not even have had a description to give to the police! Life’s glorious moments for us NOW are not the ones that touch our hearts but the ones that will look cool or interesting or amazing or LOL or ROTF types. Shakespeare said ages back, ‘ Life’s a stage.’ So very true in view of the social media revolution and the evolution it is causing is our behavioural patterns. Maybe the master writer saw this coming even back then.
The Japanese believe that Yin and Yang together is life and that is precisely what will make the yin-yang of social media click meaningfully for us. Balance. The word is balance. We need to utilise the good things – information, connectivity, accessibility, reach, etc. but need to stay away from being obsessed about the medium itself. Social media is a very vital part of our lives now but that is what it is – a part. It is only a part not the heart of our existence - the people around us are, the tears around us are, the smiles around us are! So balance it is. Balance is life.
But you know what I will still be posting those trip pictures! Balanced of course.