“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!