Jab we met, it didn’t seem like it was for the first time. She said that I was exactly the way she had imagined, I felt likewise. She is a prolific writer based in U.S.A who prefers Hindi medium. I am comfortable writing in English though I reside in apna desh. We had been following each other on social media. Facebook categorises her as a friend of a friend, actually she is my cousin’s classmate from school. As we had a heart to heart chat I silently thanked Mark Zuckerberg for another ‘life enriching’ gift.
Let’s face it, Facebook and other social networking sites receive a lot of flak for disrupting lives, disturbing focus and wasting time. Most of these critics are parents who try to keep their kids away from it although they might be quite active themselves.
I disagree with this view because I have a lot to thank it for. To put it simply, you are reading this because of Facebook. I always found the question,” What’s on your mind? “ intriguing. And one day, almost a decade back, I gave in. When Mark Z. asked me I unburdened myself and unleashed some thoughts. It started with a single line, a stray comment. I was bowled over by the almost instantaneous response I got. Slowly, with increasing confidence, the frequency and size of my posts increased till with constant encouragement I wrote a full length article. On the suggestion of a friend I sent it to the Tribune where it was published as a middle. That was the beginning, four years and more than hundred published pieces later, the role of social media in my life, fills me with gratitude.
Apart from helping find the writer in me, I find it to be a wonderful platform to meet like minded people, exchange views and seek opinions. This is specially important for people like me who live on the fringe of civilisation, where lucid adult conversation is a rarity. Besides meeting new people it is also a great way to stay connected to old acquaintances. Before the advent of social media, school and college buddies would slowly fade away, everyone busy with the business of living. Now it is easy to chat virtually to plan a real meeting.
I agree, the need to show everyone what you have seen and tell everyone that you are living a good life does reek of exhibitionism, but look at the plus side. Check anyone’s pictures ( including mine!) over the years and you will notice a certain improvement in the appearance, the attire and the attitude. If social media makes us take better care of ourself so that our profile picture looks more presentable, then I think it’s a good thing. I, for one feel younger courtesy these social networking sites, and admit it, so do you!
So youngsters ( if any of you read this ) you have a big supporter in me. But my support comes with a caveat. Don’t let these sites dictate their terms and conditions. You should never love something so much that it takes over you. You should love it enough so that you can never be controlled. It should be your strength not your weakness. As my dad would wisely say, “ Everything in moderation.” Or in my son’s words,” Be your own boss.”
( published in my column in the Tribune on 16/2/2019)