By Shivangi Singh:
A wise person has rightfully remarked, “In communication lie the seeds of a great civilization.” Human-Beings are social creatures and communication is the key to their survival. One characteristic that makes men stand out is that we live in societies, as a group of individuals sharing and exchanging our thoughts, beliefs and ideas. We are there for each other in our times of direst needs, in our darkest hours, in our joyful moments and in doing so we share our entire lives with each other. The medium might change but the basic need of communication remains the same. Earlier it used to be face-to-face communication, the chapter turned to letters and then came the revolutionary inventions of telephone and telegraphs and then, the world moved towards internet for good and the latest addition to this club is the very popular social networking websites. Facebook is the single most popular social networking website in the world today. Little did Mark Zuckerberg know that later on, the need will no longer be that of communication, instead his brain-child would become a medium of sheer show-off and that of gaining unnecessary ego boosts!
Your neighbor goes to Paris and forgets to tell you about it- How do you come to know? The answer in almost all cases will be Facebook, the same medium through which the anorexic teenagers today know about the favorite hang-out places of the most popular girl in school, or the middle-aged women know of the spiciest gossip doing rounds and even the career-oriented youth keep a tab on their peer-group and their achievements through Facebook. From your hair-stylist to your favorite teacher, from your work space’s official page to your pet shop- everyone and everything is on Facebook. It comes as no surprise then that the Facebook friend-lists grow exponentially with every passing day. A double-digit friend list is just so 2009!
Having a minimum of 1000 friends is the new cut-off for “coolness”. The first thing that a person thinks about after clicking pictures of them having good times with their loved ones is how many ‘Like’s would it get on Facebook? For higher the number of ‘Like’s and better the quality of the comments, greener would be the hue of envy for their fiercest competitor. This phenomenon makes one think, where is this constant submission to the lower realms of human behavior in the form of petty competition and silly jealousies taking our race? Isn’t a technology-based communication medium supposed to facilitate phenomenal closeness and unprecedented bonding amongst people? Why then is such a medium reduced to being just another way for people to fight with one another and constantly compare themselves with others?
Competition can make or break a person. When it’s healthy, it works as a positive catalyst and brings out the best in people. When competition takes the shape of peer-pressure it gets particularly edgy. The youth is lured by rebellious acts. This could be in the form of a fiery comment, a ground-breaking success achieved after sacrificing a lot or even an eye-catching profile picture on Facebook. Today, when everything a young person does is because “all my friends are doing it”, the rat-race to get most number of ‘Like’s and most favorable comments on their photographs can not be ruled out, but this becomes an issue of serious concern when the means turn dirty. Pictures in revealing clothing have become a trend amongst girls just to get temporary attention. The predators await such opportunities to commit hideous crimes and sadly, the outcome is unfortunate. People don’t only compete on Facebook for the highest number of friends, ‘Like’s or comments, but also sometimes just for the sheer pleasure of inviting envy. Catchy status updates, personal achievements, skills and abilities, supposedly “superior” choice of music and cinema, procurement of a pricey assets or even a costly foreign trip, all are flaunted relentlessly on this social networking website for the sole purpose of making other people jealous. What’s more surprising is that the show-off is not limited to material possessions but spawns over to personal relationships as well. Facebook has become a medium for one to boast about one’s partners, kids, best-friends and any other successful relationship which they may be having in their life. There used to be a time when one’s relationships were strictly “personal information”. The same people who flaunt it then go and claim their right to privacy!
As a disgusting add-on to attention-seeking behavior, Facebook users have now started putting-up self-belittling status updates like- “Terribly sad 🙁”. Even a broken arm is flaunted these days! It’s simply tragic that all the compromise on self-respect is done just in order to get 15 minutes of fame on some random website.
In the mad follow-up of a distorted notion of popularity, the things that the youth of this country ends up doing become a sad fact. A communication medium is supposed to bring people together and not break them apart. As we grow near on the World Wide Web and draw further apart in real life, we need to ask ourselves what can be done to bridge the gap. Today, there are more people on Facebook than there were on this planet 200 years ago. What has changed is not just the numbers but the attitude. Those handful people 200 years ago were more united even in the face of inter-racial wars and in the absence of any invention that could make communication easier, than the people in our times filled with notions of international peace and ease of 24*7 global connectivity.
When we look down upon one another as competitors rather than collaborators for the planet’s development, we invite deep feelings of misunderstanding and mistrust which kills the “attitude of gratitude” and promotes unhealthy competition. The old adage can help change perspective: “When we point out someone, there are always three fingers pointing back at us”. If one feels the need to show-off, psychologically, it indicates that the person has been deeply hurt in some form and is desperately trying to make a comeback and “Desperate times, Desperate measures” isn’t always a sure-shot for success. Sometimes actions have repercussions. Sooner or later people would realize the immaturity of “Facebook flaunting” and only then would “Facebook envy” come to rest.