So social, yet so far
EVEN as we interact with numerous people online, our actual lives seem to be devoid of human contact. We may have x number of friends or followers or subscribers on our online profiles but in real life, our list of friends is in a free-fall.
With the need to maintain a presence on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc, our real life activities are consigned to the background. The itch which made us update our status, post, tweet and retweet our friends’ tweets is now an obsession.
The popularity stakes have never been higher. Riding on the strength of a user base of over 750 million people, Facebook is expected to publicly list itself in 2012 with a $100 billion valuation. Loved by numerous celebrities, Twitter, with its 200 million plus user base is gaining momentum as the new-age media. Google was slow to start with failures like Google buzz and Google wave littering the path to its latest offering Google plus.
You now have social networks for everything. You can meet like-minded people as you build your world online. But in your made-up world, you lose sight of the real world. In the race to be the fastest online, we forget about the world which matters— the real world.
Besieged by numerous social networks, we lose track of time as we learn to navigate. Each day, a massive amount of our time is spent with these portals. We don’t lose out and may even gain information. But information is not the mainstay of our lives, people are. We change schools, colleges, jobs and even residences because of the quality of people.
The ever-engulfing desire to be connected has dumped an entire generation on the internet. To twist an advertisement, “If you’re not online, well, you’re not online”. There are many who propound that social networks increase interaction and break down barriers between people. Some even discover their life partners. Is online interaction a substitute for meeting people in real life?!
Social networks and their usage is reaching atmospheric highs, but so is the exhaustion of their respective users. Power users intent on building their businesses and personal worth have never been more delighted. But the common users, the majority of the people online have never been so saddened. Earlier, if you ended a relationship, few knew and fewer still cared. Now, with relationship details splashed about on social networks, everybody knows. With the power of these networks harnessed by their founders, everybody will always know.
Even as the line between our social networking profiles and real-life personas blurs, we strive for rehab. The gap between those who are online and those pledging to leave behind their online selves is narrowing. As heartening as a ‘like’, ‘re-tweet’ and ‘re-post’ may be, they cannot compare to a real-life hug.
The users of social networks may be increasing at an exponential pace but so are the accounts being de-activated. To get away from them, we are being compelled to leave them. Even as we can never erase our virtual selves, we can embrace other physical beings. Misery loves company, but, in this case, the company of so many virtual people is the cause of our misery. In this life, internet speed must not limit us.