We live in this hyper-social/ultra social world where sharing/posting on various platforms has become sort of a competition. There’s Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and Linkedin that most people are on. These are the daily sharing ones but there are special ones too. There’s Tinder (and many more competitors) for hyper (blind) dating where you choose to meet random people based on their profiles, there’s similar Grinder but for same-sex dating. There’s Quora-like platform which is about question and answers, and you can’t imagine what all questions get answered with ease and in detail on Quora (I have found answers on Global Economic Crisis to where to find caps in Ahmedabad). There’s SoundCloud for singers and music lovers and there’s Zomato for food lovers. And then some of us also write blogs.
One more major social media eruption and we’ll all collapse.
All this means just so many profiles to manage. There are apps to help you manage multiple profiles at one go, there are books and websites that guide you on how to be popular on each of these platforms. I know people, who maintain at least 4 of these social media profiles, on daily basis. If you don’t post stuff, then you’re the stalker. You have to just keep scrolling down whatever app, staring into the oblivion, deriving nothing in return. Then there are people who are on just one platform but spending a huge part of the day on it.
It’s so ingrained in the system that it has become an involuntary behaviour. An average adult is distracted and complains that he/she doesn’t have time to read books- well obviously. People in offices are distracted. Many corporates have banned Facebook in office time.
Travel has never been so competitive, everyone is in the race of posting amazing pictures of them having fun- whether it is on top of a mountain, or a busy street or a private dinner; and most people want to do it right then. People who can’t travel too much, share pictures of the same trip periodically. Although the caption is something absolutely philosophical, shows or says nothing about the place- we post it and then wait.
The eternal wait is to see the number of likes. The Higher number of likes is always a jackpot; it basically means appreciation- perhaps something that most of us are otherwise lacking in our lives so we are trying to find it online.
The others click until the camera/phone says memory full. The trip is basically blurred because you weren’t there during the lunch conversations or the quite musings in the forest or the joy of getting wet in the rains- taking it all in- you were just looking for frames, clicking pictures, counting ‘Likes’. We are only giving our partial attention to things in front of us.
It is not enough to be happy, we want to show it to the world and take their acknowledgements on it. It’s not okay to be sad, some people “feel lonely with 16 others”.
We are posting talking to our newborn on Facebook. We are talking to the dead, telling them how much we miss them-On Facebook. We are wishing our parents and partners sitting next to us on Facebook. Our dinners have become quieter and less fun than how they look on the photos on Facebook. Important errand for the weekend is to change Facebook DP and Cover Photo. Whatsapp dp and status need to be changed on daily basis.
There are norms. And everyone who is not following the norm is considered abnormal. There is lesser or value to individual space. Solitude is considered selfish. People sitting without phones, just generally looking at the sky or going out for solitary dinners are spotted with sympathy. The world has gradually become more about what we show to the world than what we truly are.
I had quit Whatsapp around a year back and got instantaneous slapping for people around. They thought I was being crazy. When I said, I want time and space and do not want this kind of communication, they thought I was being selfish, unreasonable and arrogant. Perhaps what bothered them the most was that I was making a statement that I had more work than them and did not have time to waste by chatting with them on Whatsapp. I did not mean any of that. Whatsapp was always a crowded world. The continuous insulation of dopamine (dopamine is a hormone that is released when you’re too anxious or excited) in me, wanting to check my phone so often, even when there was no notification- had become a habit. I’ve always feared addictions. So one fine day, I quit it. I told myself that if I can’t cope, I’ll be back.
Turns out, I survived. I’ve never been happier. I deleted the Facebook app, made a decision to use it only on the browser and on 2G and turned off all other notifications. So when I sit on my work table, there’s no distraction. When I am with my family, there’s no notification. When I’m writing, the internet is off.
Social media- whatever and however you choose to share, is a brilliant place to be if you know what and how much works out for you. You might as well manage 6 profiles if you enjoy it. But if there’s something that is missing, if there’s something you are noticing, listen to yourself. People who love you, will not leave you over quitting/reducing your presence on a social media platform. You have to find your own Zen (peace).
(Find more of such images on internet addiction on BuzzFeed: http://www.boredpanda.com/satirical-illustrations-addiction-technology/)