Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Trends on Tuesday : Perils of the social network

Today's post is certainly going to ruffle a lot of feathers, as I talk about a trend that has been catching up over the past few years. Social Networking and its implications on humanity.The world is growing closer by the minute. Technology aids people to stay in touch at all times, with distance no longer being an impediment. That said, social networking sites on the internet were a boon to people living today's super fast lifestyles, that leave one with hardly any time for physical fitness let alone social and emotional improvement!

Simply using these sites to get back in touch with people you left far away as you moved along the pathways of life is fine. But expecting these sites to supplant face time, or for that matter be an indicator of one's social quotient is grossly misplaced. So, if I have 400 friends on Facebook, ideally I should be considered one with a strong network. But perhaps I need to pause and think about how many of these peoples' lives am I intimately aware about. How much do I know about these people? Are they really friends or mere acquaintances? Is Facebook really my bookmark of friends, and my way of staying in touch? Or is it a glorified address book, that contains their contact details while having people tweeting feeds about what they're doing in their lives?

Facebook is perhaps a wonderful platform for people to establish their first time contacts with long lost friends. It is perhaps brilliant for marketing or endorsing a cause amongst your peer group. But it sure as hell is not the right emotional medium to announce to your friends that you are getting married!! But in today's world, where people are on the move all the time, and technology is so addictive, with cell phone updates available to Facebook, the emotional connect gets lost somewhere. It is suave to actually tweet - 'had a blast at office party last night' and put up a zillion pictures with a bunch of tagged faces. But ask me how many meaningful conversations I had with people last night, and the answer would be a dismal 1 or 2. Where was the time amidst posing for all those pictures???

Then comes the incessant need to keep putting up status updates and random inputs about one's life. Now why does the world need to care about whether you are running on 5 hours of sleep? Does the world need to know that you are having a tiff with your significant other? Why should the world know personal details about your life just because of your want for something to tweet in the first place? You may argue that I should perhaps not read these messages if I didn't want to. Well, fair point. But all I ask is, what about the fine art of exercising discretion on what can and can't be shared? What is wrong in keeping a few aspects of life strictly personal? I'd put in a post a while ago on a similar trend with respect to gtalk tag lines and here it is.

A very funny pdf is doing the rounds these days, describing the Ramayana on Facebook. No offence intended to anybody, but just to give a flavor of how unwittingly funny life is on Facebook, I'm attaching a snapshot of this pdf here -

But this is a trend. An American Presidential Election was won with the support of Facebook. The current generation lives and thrives by social networking through Facebook, Orkut and Twitter. I am an ardent fan as well. And not keeping with the times and trends will only leave one behind as the world marches on. So what can be done? Complement Facebooking with some phone and face time. Let us not let go of the human connect and make way for the humanoid connections. Let networking not be related only to TCP/IP. Let the age old medium of person to person contact co exist with peer to peer software connections.

That said, now let me put up a link to this post on Facebook and Orkut! Didn't I tell you it's addictive??


Sai Pondalur said...

It feels good when I know / assume that somebody out there cares to read what all I write. If facebook is the medium to publish my Harry Potter, I am the J K Rowling for it and that's what I think makes a difference.

Why do I put one-liners on facebook instead of taking the pain of writing a book? Because this is a new world of "instant gratification" and facebook gives me exactly that - when someone you know reacts to what you wrote without you putting in any effort to reach out to him, and that's what drives social-networking and blogging.

If I put in 10 status updates on facebook (whether it's downright silly or vitally important), yet receive no response what-so-ever, I'd drop the idea and move on to other things that promise to achieve the same goal - 'instant gratification'.

Jasnoor said...

Excellent post. :)

Sindhu Subramaniam said...

@ Sai - I completely agree - the gratification aspect is immensely addictive. But my only argument is the fact that such gratification must not be achieved only through media like facebook alone. Anything in excess is not good. So, hold on to the human connect while tweeting and FBing.

@ Jasnoor - I am sincerely honored! I have graduated from strictly decent to excellent! Now my bar has been raised all the more!!!

Thanks guys.