“As social media, or whatever you want to label it, becomes more prevalent, there will be blunders. We’re in experimental mode right now.”
– Steve Hall, AdGabber founder.
Last night, I went to the club with my family and everywhere I walked, I observed numerous people glued to their phones. They were at the beach, adsorbing some sun and stuck with their phones. They were at the restaurant, not talking to their peers, but dug into their handheld computers and browsing through their newsfeed.
I was actually contemplating on rushing up to them, snatching their phones and telling them to enjoy nature – To experience the gorgeous scenery and to just let go of all the artificial bonds.
That scene last night made me realize how addicted we are to social media. I mean, when was the last time we ‘added a friend’ to our lives without the click of a button? When was the last time we hung out with the ‘friends’ that we Facebook every day? And I’m not speaking from a pedestal here; I myself am guilty of being enslaved by this addiction.
Social media these days is all about brilliant photographers photographing their lunch and publicizing it on cyberspace. It’s about people talking about what they had for dinner and then explicitly describing their bowel movements. It’s about writers with marvelous thoughts saturating them to fit a 140 character limit, and it’s about lonely teenagers posting pictures of their cats, in the hope of a ‘like’ or a ‘share’.
We are in that age where people would rather ‘share’ a picture to help the helpless children in the famine-ridden parts of Africa, than donate money to a charity that sends relief there. I’ve gone to many dinners where every single person takes a picture of their food on Instagram, uploads their location on Foursquare, reads their Twitter thread and goes through their Facebook notifications; without uttering a single word. Without opening our mouth, we have conveyed to the others that we are more interested in what’s happening elsewhere than talking to the people across the table, even though that may not be deliberate.
The internet allows people to just say whatever they like and just randomly declare things rather than have a real conversation with anyone. It has actually changed the way we interact, absorb and relate to things. It has disconnected us in ways we would have never imagined.
Social media, when used as a promoter for real-world interactions, can be very helpful. But in recent times, some people live their entire lives online – as though if something isn’t posted on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram, it doesn’t count. That it doesn’t exist without being made public on a social platform. It has enabled us to interact with a multitude of different people day in and day out. This in turn has led to us maintaining shallow friendships with everyone. What I am trying to convey is that sometimes the very boon that brings us great benefits is the rope we bind ourselves with. We strap ourselves on our computers and forget to live.
So let’s log off at times and go out with friends. Let’s plan meetings, hang-outs and get-togethers. Because social media may be good for planning get-togethers but it’s surely not a platform for getting together.
As Stephanie Georgopulos said in her essay ‘Meet Me Offline’; ‘Just unplug for a while, ‘cause I can’t download the space between your shoulder blades and I need your back in my hands to remember how bodies work. I want to relearn your skin with an open palm, not a single finger, you know what I mean? ‘Cause what I mean is I want to touch you, not Poke you; I want to like you, not Like you; I want to love you, not Heart you. I want to live in a place void of scare quotes, of capitalized letters that inject semantics, a place void of tonal ambiguity. I want to live in a place where the space between your back exists, where it’s wire-less and not wireless, a place where I can like you in lowercase. Let me like you.’