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"WhatsApp killed SMS,
YouTube killed DVDs,
Skype killed telephone conversations and
Social Networking killed Life"

Said the great poet, umm... Alright, it was a forward message. I got in WhatsApp. True, nevertheless. It would rather be appropriate to dicuss this topic with the numerous parents (including mine) whose questions were only greeted with silence (or sometimes better, a fuss) for a reply from their children who were busy meddling with their mobiles or laptops. This applies to the entire 'Social Media', and everything it comprises - Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Hike, YouTube, etc. Not only the Social Media but also the platforms for Social Networking - mobiles, tablets, computers (oh yeah, the order has long changed now, mobiles have overtaken computers), and anything remotely Digital (a special mention here to the headphones which have almost transformed into a part of our ears), in short the 'Virtual or Digital World'.  There's a lot of brainy people out there to discuss the serious ill-effects of Social Media and Virtual Life like misuse of accounts, blackmailing people, cyber-crimes, faking identities, cheating and all. So why not take a look at their not-so-serious ill-effects? Hey, this doesn’t make me an anti-social-networking geek or something!!

I have a vivid recollection of a debate which centred on Social Networking and the person who spoke for the topic said "Youth are not interested in their Textbook; They are interested in Facebook" and the hall, mostly youngsters, went crazy in applause for him. But then, is that the right approach? For the country, for the people and more importantly their own futures? And the answer is very obvious. No.

Sometimes, I wonder how much time we've been robbed of which could otherwise have been put to very constructive use other than things like googling quotes to update WhatsApp statuses, uploading new DPs (not to mention the toil we put behind it - searching for different locations for the DSLR photo shoots, not sparing a single mirror in our houses for selfies and oh, the editing...) This time could be comfortably used for any other productive purposes like reading books, writing poems, painting and most importantly, studies.

A very serious point that needs attention is that it promotes Narcissistic Tendency, aka, the tendency to ‘share’ personal stuff. But what's wrong in sharing your happiness and sorrows, expressing your views? After all, isn't that what makes us humans different, or even superior?

Well, what's wrong is the degree and the motive! Sharing stuff is not a fault, but getting too personal or too minute to the range of updating statuses about getting up, brushing and going to bed, etc. is. And what I meant by motive, was that we don't do it for the sheer purpose of sharing our joys with our friends and family. What actually induces us, unconsciously, is the attention. We all feel like rockstars when we our DP's fetch around 100 likes, don’t we? (Remotely, this is what makes cine stars with a few consecutive hit films create their own parties and enter politics.) So what drives us is not the sharing motive but the kick we derive out of mass public reactions to personal stuff. But the naked truth is, nobody out there actually cares for us. (Again, what the cine stars learn the hard way!)

 Isn’t it ironic? What actually makes us feel that we are connected, that we are a part of the society at large and what gives us a sense of oneness is actually stimulates our isolation.

Also, what Narcissistic Tendency indirectly promotes is a sense of shameless self-promotion, a sense of self-interest and all sorts of ‘self’ thoughts. To ‘rationally’ call it selfishness, or to spiritually call it Ahankar, is up to you.

Another point is that the Social Media also gives a lot of space for misunderstandings. One talent we all naturally possess is getting offended and Social Networking in many ways grooms this mentality. We take offence over very menial things like somebody not 'liking' or 'commenting on' the photos we share. Watch out: Not inserting a smiley in text messages could be an irreparable sin! Isn’t true that as our phones are getting smarter, we’re getting dumber? Plus, the thing with text messages is that, we cannot sense the real tone/modulation in which things were meant to be said and so a text can be interpreted in so many ways - and we, obviously, take it in the wrong sense leading to unwanted misunderstandings which won't even last for 5 minutes if we were to talk to the other person directly.

So people, the conclusion is very simple. Using all social networking sites is not wrong, but a few points are to be taken into consideration: The time that is spent, the Opportunity Cost of the time so taken (i.e., what else could have been productively done during the given time), and the order of our preference. And never ever let the order change. It’s always real people with flesh and blood in the real world around us first! If you want to cry, use others’ shoulders, not your Facebook status. Give people your love, not your ‘like’. Take notice; take care before it’s too late.


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Category Others, Other Articles by - Ganesh K. Vaidyanathan 



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