Over the last few months, I’ve been coming to terms with the childlike enthusiasm with which my mum enjoys networking on Facebook - similar to how I probably felt 5 years ago when I first started out.
A few weeks ago, I installed the ubiquitous messaging service, Whatsapp, on her new phone. Needless to say, she is thrilled about being able to stay in constant reach of her friends. She was the last to join the bandwagon among her friends. I’ve also been accused of not replying ‘instantly’. No wonder I never got the girls. She can also now see how late I stay up.
But, why should all of this surprise me? I should be extremely happy that she has finally taken up to technology, and I very well am. She is at last getting to enjoy the perks that come with the Internet, having lived a very contrasted childhood from mine. In a way, I thank Facebook for letting me see this animated side of my mum every time she uploads a family picture to her profile.
Amidst all of that, here I am, trying to embrace life a little more.
In the past few months, I’ve traveled a lot more, attempted to have some real life conversations, and stayed away from the distractions of the camera and smartphone. Although I haven’t made life-changing progress, I have certainly come some way from my permanently wired self.
Although I may be a part of a minority, we are definitely a growing one. A recent study on Facebook’s changing demographics indicated a 25 percent drop in the 13-17 age group. The 18-24 age group was also found to be moving away from Facebook. On the other hand, there was an 80 percent increase among people aged 55 and over. I find this contrast in attitude very fascinating.
Every few weeks, I run into friends who have temporarily thrown in their towels owing to a ‘burn out’.
We already know the reasons: increasing consciousness of the unwarranted scrutiny online and superficial interactions with third level connections.
The sad truth is that although my mum gets to experience what it feels like to use Facebook and Whatsapp, I will never know what it feels like to not have a phone or an Internet connection.
The grass is always greener on the other side (works for both generations).
Although it makes perfect sense to rubbish New Year resolutions that people never keep up past the first week of January, I still find merit in having the same.
They allow you to reflect on your past year and identify potential for the next. Regardless of whether you intend to stick to your resolutions or not, it’s extremely important to know where you stand. This self-analysis is what New Year Resolutions are about for me. If you do your analysis with full conviction, there is no reason why you won’t keep up your resolutions till the end of the year. But, that is only secondary.
Why can’t we do an analysis on any random day? Why New Years?
Because, we are humans. And as a species, humans generally tend to be lazy. Without complaining about the sham that New Year resolutions are, I would use the same occasion as an excuse to look at myself in an objective and honest manner. We are too absorbed in our daily travails for the rest of the year to be able to contemplate in the same productive manner.
For the above reasons, January 1st is definitely one of my favorite days of the year. It has more potential than any other day.
I recently watched the incredibly epic documentary on the Pirate Bay founders and one particular scene in a court hearing caught my attention.
Lawyer: How did you meet Fredrik (co-founder) and Gottfrid (co-founder)?
Peter Sunde (co-founder): I don’t remember, but I assume it was in a chat room on the internet.
Lawyer: When was the first time you met IRL?
Peter Sunde: We don’t use the expression IRL. We say AFK. But that’s another issue. But, I don’t remember that either.
District Court Judge: Got to know each other IRL? What is that?
Lawyer: In Real Life.
Peter Sunde: We don’t like that expression. We say AFK - Away From Keyboard. We think that the internet is for real.
I can’t find a better way to put it than that last quote. The internet is for real. Regardless of whether this is a good or bad thing, anything you do online will have repercussions in real life.
The people from real life will have greater access to you, discuss your online activities in greater detail, and constantly plot their next moves. Any amount of good the world can come up with, there will always be a small minority who ruin it for others. The same goes with the Internet.
The problem is that Facebook, for example, thinks that friends = Facebook and Facebook = friends. If this were ever true, I wouldn’t be writing this post. In a scenario such as this, I think it is easy for people to take advantage of us and put us in unwarranted situations. Insignificant people need to remain that - insignificant.
Since completely giving up on social networking is a lost cause, making our experience on the interwebs more worthwhile is the least we can do. Luckily enough, you can act on damage control. Blocking is a virtue. Blocking is righteous. Do it. Do it for the slightest reason. Blocking is not anti-social. In fact, it’s the opposite. You’ll love the feeling.
For long, I have had ambivalent feelings towards social media. Knowing that I do gain some professional good from it, learning to live and adapt with it is the best way to go.
The people that spend their days spreading negativity will amount to fuck all. I guarantee you that.
Follow up post to Anonymity Is Killing The Internet.
Once upon a time, I wanted to be different. They wanted me to be like everybody else. When I became like everybody else, they wanted me to be different. The end.