All the world’s a stage and I have stage fright!

“All the world’s a stage” by Shakespeare is easily my favourite phrase ever. What follows now is not Jaques’ monologue, but mine. Our melancholy is shared, but mine are well.. new-agey and digital. While some beg to differ, to me an evening well spent with my friends would often include large doses of laughter, an inexorable punch of tangy wit, and a well-endowed series of satirical one-liners. Food, laughter and books (necessarily in that order) are always the mystical fixes for any broken thing- soul, heart, legs and whatever else you want to mend. Somehow when I grew up, I had a certain peace around me (please don’t talk about Syria and Iran), a fascinating feeling that my existence was important to the world without me having to keep proving it every day by posting pictures of me brushing my teeth or putting up statuses of how my dump was better today compared to two weeks earlier. Could it indeed have been the digestive power of ginger after all? I will never know; I may have to post this and get the necessary comments from my “friends” on this matter.

Coming from a world driven by the urge to check-in, hooked “phoners” instantly applying filters to photographs and foodies posting zomato reviews, I indeed wish Arthur Dent would take me to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe, far away from the maddening chatter of the incessant buttons driving me to like or comment or share the posts. Back then, if I had to stalk someone, I’d probably lurk in the dark alley (Haha, I know I wouldn’t. I’m a potato afraid of its own shadow, nevertheless!) just after they’d got off work or school and find out from some secretive sources I’d have deployed (I should have been a 007 in the making, but I never had the gadgets or the panache to be one). Now all I need to do is just look up their “handle” on twitter or their name on Facebook, and voila! It’s that simple. Now I know what the person had for a mid-evening snack 3 months ago and learnt that he has a fetish for Cersei Lannister. Eww Cersei? Really? So yes, we’ve learnt to “socially” judge people more blatantly and aggressively without the slightest of sensitivity. So officially, we now push everyone’s buttons!

The social world has pushed me to turn more negative with every post, leaving me less tolerant than before. I honestly don’t care how much you love your best friend or boyfriend. You don’t have to throw in the “miss youuuuuuusssssss” at every opportunity you get. The very word “private” isn’t private anymore. I honestly couldn’t care less if you straightened your hair or if you permed it- or if you went bald either for that matter. Being social is good, for we all are social animals. There is however a thin line between saying “I’m on Facebook” and “I’m ALWAYS on Facebook”. Twitter has ruined grammar, vocabulary and the very art of expression, thanks to the stunted development of the mystical number 140. “42” was always the magical number, describing Life, the Universe & beyond and clearly, it’s been replaced. The social stage is best suited for marketing, which is good, so let’s leverage that. However, all we do is market ourselves. “I just got a Mercedes!”, status’d a friend of mine, and yes after that moment of joy I felt for him, I felt like a bum throughout the day wallowing in self-pity. Accept it or not, this is how most people feel. Why would you want to inflict more injury to someone who is already cowering in an absolute feeling of worthlessness, followed by heavy doses of  insane jealousy? Are you trying to carelessly show off or prove a point? Uniforms exist for a reason, to attempt to bridge societal statuses, to bring in a sense of equality. What is the purpose of anything involving equality if all you’d do is gloat- about your victories, prized possessions, and daily things such as listening to Adele’s Hello- who hasn’t?!

On a serious note, most of us are on social media for that long a time for no rhyme or reason, that there are industries making billions out us. Highlighting your happiness, sadness, drama and love, every digital ad you see is targeted to you in some form or another. You can’t just say “it kept following you”.  Call me pedantic, but it followed you because remember, you “signed up” for this, metaphorically, literally- seriously, really! On my bus journey to work, the guy sitting a few seats ahead of me was drumming away on the seat in front of him, shaking his head furiously to the music that was spilling from his earphones (so loud that everybody beside him could hear what he was listening to). As if that wasn’t enough to irk the bus conductor, he didn’t bring the exact fare (or even closest to the next round number) and simply shoved a note into his face. What followed was a two-minute sermon by the conductor on “people on headphones these days”. After he walked a couple of steps ahead, all of us slipped our headphones back on, and were all again alone, together. The best part of this was that one crisply dressed gentleman had to put this up as a status, and was anxiously checking to see how many likes he got. Enough said.

In reality, none of us can really thrive without “social media”, can we? Yes, the answer is no, considering the platform I’m posting this blog on equates itself as a medium of social expression. However, this platform has always nurtured the healthy side of sharing your perspective- your thoughts, creatives, ideas, feelings. It doesn’t make you resent the whole idea of staying on this platform. You find like-minded people, cross-cultured people, people who are people of a few words and people who love to talk, but there is no resentment. We are a community, a cohesive unit. We are people who take the time to comment on a complete stranger’s posts, appreciating their points, understanding their background and analyzing the factors which led them to come up with such a well-articulated piece. I have had the pleasure of having people I follow, follow me back, leading to several wonderful threads, for most of which you’ll never know the topic it started off with. That’s who we all are. A bond holds us here, but is this relatable to the other forms of social media? It is a medium of expression and should be treated as one. It is blasphemous if we try to make people jealous, inferior, or good for nothing. Digital is good, but we never have Ctrl+Z (or for the Mac-a-holics, Command+Z) in our lives to wind and rewind incidents. Things that happen to us are not as easy as deleting a post, and unfriending a friend from your life is a lot harder than it seems on Facebook. Life is not easy, and social media is meant to be fun. One of my favorite illustrators and comic artists Toby Morris, created an amazing comic strip on social media, which pretty much sums up what I’ve been grappling to say. .

Preaching to the converted- Toby Morris

Is reconversion a paradox? Even if it is, is it even possible? This digital thing is here to stay and I sound like a grandma who’s seen the world in all its glory, but never mind that. With this digital thing still around, if we are still able to take control of our lives and have a tight leash on social media, then I think that’s probably the best way you can save mankind. People would be bracing their newfound freedom, enjoying their happiness peacefully and singing songs on their democratic rights. We would actually talk to someone without having to look for free WiFi, and actually sing for the heck of it, without uploading it on SoundCloud. Hell, people can still continue to toot publicly, and still save themselves of the embarrassment of a ‘stinky’ meme (pun intended) on them going viral. That’s how the cookie (errrr..) crumbles and nope, I wouldn’t live to see that.

So long, fellow veggies!

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108 thoughts on “All the world’s a stage and I have stage fright!

    1. Yes, I love all the chatter about “personal brands” and “branding yourself.” I thought that went out with the end of slavery, yet here we are, voluntarily enslaving ourselves. Getting “branded.” I’m afraid that wordpress itself is guilty of this one.

  1. Heeh..I miss the good ol’ days, scrapped knees, yelling and screaming, laughing for real without the lol’s, deciding on a time via ONE PHONE CALL – Yea..I sound like a grandma too

    1. Yeah. Well, we’re from the days of yore and hey we’re not that old yet! But yes, I miss playing hopscotch, throwball and badminton 😀 Like, really playing and not just on a PS3.

  2. I’m trying hard to break my habit of checking my phone constantly. Part of my problem these days is that I’ve started blogging more consistently and I keep checking for likes/comments. I also need to have more of a real life social life. When you never do anything it is too easy to get obsessed with social media.

    1. Not at all. You shouldn’t beat yourself like this. Here you’re blogging and as I mentioned in the post, this is healthy. It’s the subway salad as opposed to the KFC bucket (Facebook). What you’re doing is great and blogging is an amazing way to show who you are. Good going 🙂

  3. I have never been a media addict…in fact I can turn my phone off for days at a time…I enjoy wordpress blogging community, but do not have to be on here everyday…..it amazes me how far and fast the digital world has come…remember back in 2000 when everyone thought the world was going to stop revolving because the computers were not set past 1999…LOL so funny….what would be the worst if all the social media in the world collapsed…hummmm I guess we would all have to get land lines again….LOL no stressing,,,,,turn ii all off – take a breath and if its really important someone will figure out how to reach you….good post….kat

    1. True. Landlines will be fun again. We’ve had a crazy jump in technology and sometimes it’s a little annoying. However, I love WordPress and how much we get to interact! Thanks a ton for stopping by to comment, Kat 🙂 So glad to hear from you.

  4. Facebook is how I keep up with my family and friends–now. I miss the old family get-togethers that are almost a thing of the past. I also get annoyed at people who have to post every single thing they do that day. Who the hell cares? Even here on WordPress, there are some bloggers who post things five or more times a day. Who can keep up and comment on that much stuff put out by one person, multiplied by one hundred? I have given up trying.

    1. Aww don’t be so despondent. We should go back to writing long letters, Victorian style with a calligraphic hand et al. It’ll be fun 🙂 Just show up where you want to. See it as a party that might interest you, or not 🙂 Don’t give up already! 🙂

  5. I enjoyed your rant, and can relate to much of it. I’m definitely old school and am not good at marketing myself on social media. I always think long and hard before posting any of my blog posts on FB (the few that I think might be of particular interest to my friends). My finger hovers over the post button and I cringe every time. I don’t have many followers (nor have time/desire to properly follow many blogs) but I get lots of pleasure writing my posts and following good stuff like yours. Thanks for entertaining me!

    1. I go through the same thing! The hovering over ‘post’ and a feeling of withdrawal before I do post something 😛 Thanks a ton, Caroline 🙂 You’ve made my day! Do stay in touch.

  6. Ironically, we all participate in self-assertion by pointing out we are here being creative and worthwhile instead of posting pictures of our lunch.
    But there are bad blogs on WordPress, and good pages on Instagram.
    I personally believe, the same way on being given the power to speak some say rubbish and some say things that are worthwhile, the same applies for social media.
    There is a reason there was one melancholic Jacques and a bunch of courtiers in ‘as you like it.’
    And decades later you quote Jacques speech and not the courtier’s song on being merry.
    Only the medium has changed, not the mind.

    1. True, but the medium is equally important to the mind, if not better. It’s a fine line between what we want to express and what tolerance others would have towards it. It’s like fashion. Literary fashion. 🙂

      1. Fashion is art too, is it not? And as it is the rule with every form of art, its not meant for everyone. Now if I handed an easel to every single person on my street, obviously some would produce less than fantastic works.
        That’s what social media did, it made everyone a photographer, philosopher and a writer.
        But then, here I am posing as one too. I’m no better than them, I just write longer sentences.
        Cheers, great piece by the way.

  7. Very good write. I, too, am over social media and the politics. However, I can’t deny that social media is here to stay.

    I enjoyed that comic strip. Thanks for sharing!

      1. Haha, I do not know how to check location. It’s mid-night here and really late. Tomorrow is gotta be a big day for me so I gotta go. But just want to let you know that I am truly honor having you as my first subscriber.

  8. A very good post and you’ve summed up the vanity of the # quite well. As you say, we all need to communicate, being social animals, but how much of that is good enough? That’s what we need to think about.
    Thanks for such a wonderful post and for following my blog. Its a pleasure to read such wonderful blogs.
    Have a great day. God bless. 🙂

  9. Oh my gosh! I had to share! Love love love your blog! I’m fan! Now I’m gonna have to binge read your past posts!Big hugs! Much Peace Love Art 😀

  10. I know what you mean. I have this cousin on FB who keeps posting everything (as in everything) she does. I know it’s supposed to connect people but c’mon, posting ten different angles of your selfie pics? One of the reasons I got rid of FB before.

  11. Most welcome; could not agree more with the bit about going over board with social media. But, at the risk of sounding terribly cliched/corny, social media today has almost become a ‘necessary evil’!!!

  12. ok, this is an amazing post. i’ve been feeling thoughts along these lines, though, honestly, i am a prisoner to the need for social media. it’s a catch-22 of sorts. i’m off Facebook for lent, but when i return, i hope to remember to share this! I’ll be back!

    1. Aww. Thanks a ton. I think we are all prisoners in some way or the other. But I think there’s a way to wiggle out of it and we’ll all figure it out, starting with this Lent season which is going to be a great social detox for you 🙂 I really look forward to you visiting the couch more often.
      Love and Cheers,
      Potatopen

  13. Hope I didn’t offend you that I clicked on “like”! This is beautifully written and makes quite a few salient points, chief among them being the dumbing down of the general public by 140 words at a time! Thanks, Potato!

  14. I absolutely agree with this point and I wrote exactly about the same matters on my http://inesepogalifeschool.com/ blog in a post called Detachment from reality http://inesepogalifeschool.com/2016/02/11/detachment-from-reality-when-lies-become-the-alter-ego/
    Well, this is a part of bigger picture and people think they are really living their life if they have enough of web presence. There is a reason people are pushed into the social turmoil: can you possibly imagine how many industries and how many companies benefit and earn insane profits from this need to be represented on the social media and web? Plus, all the trend boosting activities and the celebrities promoting industries which want to make everybody believe they live the sort-of-good-life when they don’t even live in reality.

    1. Oh tell me about it, Inese. As a matter of fact, I recently learned that they have extensive course modules for this and I’ve never felt more terrible. Sure doctors and lawyers make money out of your misery too, but this is on a whole new level. It’s like telling the fish to take the bait and it actually does! I’d love to read your thoughts on this and thanks a ton for stopping by. Love and cheers from Potatopen 🙂

  15. I’m stuck with Facebook. In the last 14 years I’ve lived in 8 countries, and have friends from even more than that. I’m now on the road for a year. I try to avoid the pictures of me picking my nose, and have only rarely posted a picture of a meal. I’ve given up “liking” with the new infantile emoticons. But Facebook is necessary for me to stay in touch with my friends. I don’t do instagram (I think it requires a smart phone, no?), and I only tweeted a few times and never real got the point. So, Facebook and WordPress, and I keep a firewall between them.

    1. Whoa that must be wonderful- living out of the backpack 🙂 Yeah, Instagram requires a smart phone and all that jazz just for a couple of filters. 😦 Haha, as a matter of fact, Twitter is good when someone wants to know what’s happening in the world. A lot of friends I know have stopped watching the news because Twitter serves better as a point of information. I quote myself whenever I open Facebook, “Whenever I open Facebook, somebody gets married”, Haha. WordPress notifications excite me to no end, especially if it is a comment. So thanks a ton for that 🙂

  16. Ahaha, I totally get where you’re coming from. =) Sometimes, I feel as if I’m the only one who doesn’t have a Facebook, yet I never really want to join. I force everyone to give me calls and to actually meet up with me if they want to talk, and it’s satisfying to know I’m getting my friends out of the house more. I’ll be reading more from your blog. (PS ~thanks for liking mine) x

    1. Yaay! Calling and meeting up is what I love the best rather than sending hearts over all forms of social media. My friends and I have a pact to not bury ourselves in our phones when we actually meet unless it’s critical. When we were growing up, all we had pacts for was whom to play with and whom not to. Lol. This. Crazy. World. 😀
      Thanks a ton for dropping by, do stay in touch 🙂

      1. Haha potatopen? Why wait till someday (even though pushing things off to someday is my thing), haha. So yes I’m round, lazy and love potatoes to Mars and beyond. My blog is like my Couch- couch potato, you get it 😀

      2. Haha. Loved it. Looking at your blog, I must say, that potato is on roll. 🙂 (I too i’m lazy, and take on potato avatar seasonally 😀 )

  17. On second thought, you sound very extroverted and fun. Personally, my hope and peace come from a deep sense of being loved by the God who created me, but good friends are like “God with skin on,” and friendship and laughter are balms to my soul too. Let’s keep writing!!

    1. Haha. You’re bang on. However, sometimes just like any person who loves to read and write, I withdraw into my shell and as a result, I turn into an ambivert. The only solution to that is also ironically, writing. 😀 I completely agree with you when you describe the sense of peace that prevails is from who’s around us. 🙂 Do stop by more often, it’s lovely having so much positivity around 🙂

  18. Thank you for following my blog. I enjoyed reading this thoughtful post. 🙂 I have a love-hate relationship with social media too. I do not mind if people share some personal experiences on social media, but I agree that some people share way too much personal information. Aren’t these people concerned about their privacy and safety? I have read a few stories about people who were robbed because they announced to the world that they were going on vacation on social media.

    I have resisted joining the spontaneous selfie and “hourly diary” crowd on social media. I had to sign up for Facebook (as well as a few other social media sites) for some volunteer work that I was doing, and I do not like it. I did not add anything to my Facebook profile, and complete strangers were still trying to friend me! I had to change the settings to stop that from happening. I tried to set up a Facebook page for some of my illustration work, but it has not received much attention. I am thinking about deleting my account because I don’t enjoy having it, and I don’t have time to update it constantly.

    The only social media exchanges that I really enjoy are the ones I have here on WordPress. I have had some interesting online conversations with people I have met through my WordPress blog, and I have made a few blogging friends along the way. 🙂

    1. Thank you! That’s just what I wanted to hear 😀 Social media is like morphine, killing us one day at a time. So, I completely understand when you say that all we need to do is get out of this mess and I don’t blame ourselves for thinking that way. A birdie told me that the latest “social” fad is putting up a picture and asking people to caption it. If only I had the time to come up with something like that, sigh! I completely agree on your views on privacy issues. I’m sure you’re aware, nevertheless let me elucidate here: There is this amazing series called Mr. Robot, which is all set to premier its 2nd Season. The series is all about this amazing hacker who can extract one’s personal information like he was getting a burger. He had a code, and his first step was always, ALWAYS to look for their presence on social media. Honestly, that raised waves of shock, paranoia and fear that I could measure them off a Richter scale if I wanted to.
      Wordpress is wonderful, and so is Medium (you’ll love it if you haven’t tried it as yet), and as the quote by Plutarch goes, “The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled”. Let’s kindle our intellectual fire and stay awesome.
      Again, thanks a ton for stopping by, means a lot to me 🙂
      Love & Cheers from Potatopen 🙂

      1. You are welcome, and thank you for your detailed reply to my comments. 🙂 I don’t have any time (or interest) for captioning on social media too. I did not know about the Mr. Robot series, but I can certainly understand why he would go to social media – his potential victims are probably practically giving that information away online. I also did not know about Medium. I will try to check it out when I have some time. I like the Plutarch quote, and I am glad that social media can be used in more meaningful ways than showing off one’s life and distracting people with useless information. Best regards to you! 🙂

  19. Many thanks for your intelligent and insightful post. I take short and long Holidays from Facebook World and WordPress in this new age of Transparency. It’s like a need for balance between rest and work/play. My theory is that all our words and images are present and future Robot Food. What are we feeding them ? Thanks for the chuckles too. Delightful!

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