ByÂ Kirti Joshi:
Hey you! Yes you.
– Do you have internet connection on your cellphone, tablet, laptop or personal computer?
– Do you send a considerable amount of time of your life on it? (Oh! you know the reality, just accept it)
Come on, who doesn’t?
Take your time and think about you existence over the internet. I believe tech has changed the course of our lives, I can connect to a person within a few seconds, and I can get instant information on any subject, I can even watch pictures of cats and dogs, so on and so far, but there is a darker side of the same internet that we have accepted with our arms wide open. No, I am not a follower of Neo-Luddism or a sociologist. I am just like any other 19-year-old undergrad student who has also turned into an internet junkie and has invested a lot of time online over the past few years. Every time I watch this video shared below, bam! It’s a like tight slap on my face because most of the situations and things the video talks about implies to my current relationship with internet.
So here are some of the key points to think about –
– Quantity v/s Quality
We generally define the social success of a person based on the numbers of Twitter fans the person has, the number of likes and RSS subscribers. In an attention deprived social culture, we need quick cues to measure someone’s importance, therefore we judge just about everything based on what we’d like ourselves to have. We’d love to have X number of highly engaging followers so we assume others with X number of followers must be doing something right and significant. I know that it’s better to spend time with 5 crazy friends who adore you for what you are rather to be with 100 acquaintances who don’t give a damn about you.
A perfect example for Quantity v/s Quality would be that a hundred online universities are no substitute to the experience of a single live campus.
– Connection v/s Conversation
Let me connect it with the previous point; what is your quantity of connections over the quality of conversations? We are spending a considerable amount on devices that connect us with the social networking sites like Facebook. One can have hundreds of friends on Facebook, comments and connections here and there with many of them, but this is less personal than having a conversation with a person. Texting and chatting can be said as building of connection, here we have time to think and cut short our thoughts and present in a desirable manner. It may help in saying ‘We are thinking about you’ or ‘I love you’ but will not help in learning or understanding about each other because the other person can be pretending to be somebody that he/she is not. We know that popularity among all at college is not nearly as pleasing or beneficial as specific relationships with some people where we share similar ideas, goals and passions or even flaws.
Face-to-face conversation unfolds slowly. It happens in real time and you cannot control what you are going to say and that is the bottom line – Sherry Turkle (Professor of social studies of sciences and technology at MIT) gave a TED talk in February 2012.
– Personal promotion sharing ‘things’ v/s Intimacy
We can see this almost everywhere, whether class rooms, metro stations or malls, people are looking down at phones texting, emailing or chatting , we are choosing our words more carefully when we write or talk and we are sharing only those things which will create our image in a desirable way. We have much more control on our digital lives in terms of presentation therefore we select the best of our picture; we are promoting ourselves in a way we aspire to be. If you’re sitting looking at Facebook while a real live human is sitting across you, you’re afraid of the intimacy that would come from interacting with that person. You may share an edited version of yourself online but in the real world, we do not have any chance of editing so people either accept you with your flaws or just ignore your existence.
– Adding friends v/s Cultivating friendship/relationship
Think, during some sort of mishap or accident how many of those friends that you have added on Facebook or on any other social media groups will turn up for your help? In my case, I believe a very few will be present to help but I am 100% sure that the friends that I have made through face-to-face conversations will arrive to lend their hands. Texting, email, posting, chatting – they all allow us to think before we hit send so instead of building true friendships with flaws we are obsessed with personal promotion. In the real world we are always in company with certain friends because we have cultivated that friendship so we know their flaws, habits (whether good or bad) and to a certain level they all are predictable but online we are pretending to be somebody that we are actually not so you never know what kind of personality he/she will show today. Adding unnecessary friends online is the illusion of relationship where we do not demand any association.
– Control of technology over us v/s Self-control
A few weeks back I was talking with my friends about how I constantly check each and every social networking sites even though I know that nothing new will be present there and the interesting part was that I was not the only person who was developing this ‘symptom’, we all were losing our control over the technology. One of my friend told that if she wants to study something from the laptop, she will first have to switch off the internet connection so that she will not end up randomly checking something online. I guess human nature hasn’t changed, but the ease of indulgence with technology has changed. We are tempted by technology so in a way technology is controlling us.
– Attending events v/s experiencing events
During public functions or parties, I believe 70% is consumed in clicking pictures so that later we will be able to upload the best picture online; to show that yes I attended this event. We participate in social gatherings and we later show them online as ‘something’ that we have achieved on a particular day. We are merely faking experiences so that we have something to share. Instead of looking up and around at the scenery or talking with one another in a group, clicking pictures and updating status about the same event seems much more important than experiencing it.
– Being lonely v/s being alone
When you are lonely you are looking for something or someone to fill up your time. You are constantly complaining for something that does not exist, you asking for fulfilment of the void in your life. Whereas being alone can be positive because you do not have to rely on anyone to feel alone. He/she can be content, blissful and happy being with just himself or he/she can neither be happy or sad about it. Individuality does not imply loneliness.
If a person inculcates internet as a source of gratification, he/she will go online, will connect with people but this fulfilment will be temporary because as soon you turn from the virtual to the real world you will again feel the void. The temporary fulfilment of the void/blank through the internet will turn social networking sites into a place for constant escape from real word.
I believe that the day when you’re on your death bed, you won’t have a single memory of all the funny status updates you made, the number of likes and comments they received, the perfect photos you uploaded or the amount of messages you sent to your crush, but you may very well end up thinking why did I waste so much of my time looking at a screen instead I could have felt a squirt of dopamine in my brain just by looking at that face in the real world.