(Below is a fictional conversation)
X: “Hey! Check out my selfie with my fiancée.”
Y: “Really? Shared already? Quite quick you are dear!”
X: “Oh it is…!! After all, it is my new phone and the clicking experiments are so much fun!! It feels awesome!!”
Y:”Wow! Which phone? Your pics are too good! I love your expressions!! So much of love….so much cuteness…..adorable you both are!! Awesome!!”
X: “Thanks!! Can’t believe I already have got so much likes for the pic!”
Y: “Just wait till they flood!! Ok! Got to go!! Ciao….xoxoxo!”
Why do we love the Internet? Why do we love the web? Why is this virtual world like a natural cocaine for us? Why does it feel good to reach out to people you do not know, over photos, groups, books, interests, food etcs? Why does it get more exciting when ‘xoxo’, ‘cheers’ and sweet chocolaty messages flood your timeline or your screen? The answer is so palpable!! Isn’t it?
Much has been written about how our social lives have undergone a paradigm shift and most of us find solace in ‘likes’, ‘shares’, ‘promotions’, et al. Some of us love our own pictures in different poses so much, that the expectation to get a ‘like’ is more exhilarating than waiting for that much awaited message to flash on the mobile screen on payday! A ‘selfie’ is a must for people no matter which age group one belongs to! And to start with, selfies come in various forms..different outfits and different expressions, same outfit and different expressions and then, different outfits and different apparels!! Do a math and one can calculate how active a person’s social life is in terms of friends, fans and countless unknown admirers. Even when meeting a friend or a relation in person, or maybe pitching in for potlucks and family dinners or going out with friends to a lounge or disc or even going for a long drive with family must necessarily find a mention on one’s timeline.
Is it what the word social means? To show the world that you are important just like the celebrity who does not have anything to own up as his/her. Today, each one of us in the virtual world is a celebrity of sorts, a mini to say so. “Feeling low”, “feeling blessed”, “feeling happy”, “feeling satisfied”, “slurping and burping”, “feeling lonely”, “feeling hungry”, and name the feeling, the emotions are right there on a domain where there is nothing private. The world has to know what you feel. The world has to know when you laugh, cry or get hurt (physically and mentally alike). The world also has to make sure that there are enough agony aunts and sympathetic souls out there to offer you solace, share joy and give an emotional support whenever you need. It is a world that has to essentially know everything about you, with you expecting the same.
And it is here, I am tempted to believe, we are all lonely now, lonelier than before. Be it having a buffet lunch with friends at a star rated restaurant, or dining with family at home, be it shopping in the posh malls of the city, or be it cruising away to exotic holiday destinations, the urge to share it with the virtual world has become a necessity or perhaps, an act propelled by addiction. The world must know, how happy you are. Or perhaps, is it you who wants to desperately convince self, “I am happy, no matter what!”?
But then, if one were to see the flip side of everything, pessimism would overrule all hopes on being better! And, before I sound critical of what social life has become today, let me share my second perspective. At least, I would like to believe there has been some good too. Connecting with like minded people, sharing knowledge and enriching it, picking on new hobbies and experimenting a variety of recipes on untried taste buds, exploring a spiritual side in self, home makers turning into entrepreneurs from home and a lot more, are some encouraging signs in social lives of many today. The hope to learn, the faith to achieve and the gumption to step out and pursue one’s dreams is no less than a feat for many educated home makers for whom, virtual world is surely a blessing. The catch however lies in the reigns that control the addiction to this world. And who holds the reigns, but our minds! The heart is free to feel anything but it is the mind that balances the rationale. Considering the mania that has taken over, how paramount a role shall this world play in our lives? And, for better or for worse? Only time shall tell!