Social media has revolutionized our lives, irrespective of country, generation and culture. It has influenced all of us, in one way or the other.
The question however is; is it good or bad? Do I even need to think along these lines? What is the next step that I should take? Or should I just ignore it as my mid-life crisis or my thyroid problem and move on?
Earlier it was only the "generation gap". Now we have the "technology gap". Both put together has made life so much more exposed, challenging and...umm...fun (looking for a positive word)!
When I was growing up, the maximum exposure to the world was flipping through pages of a Geography book looking for the Straits of Gibraltar or stealing a glimpse of Chitrahaar (a film based program on TV) through the reflections on the corner mirror which was intentionally set at such an angle that it could be visible from the study room I shared with my brother. The latter was a very daring and risky feat, since getting caught meant serious spanking (No, we were not aware of the possibility of suing our parents for that).
A few slaps here and there, ears getting boxed once in a while and the occasional spankings, made me who I am today. No regrets! My parents did a wonderful job! haha!
Today's kids have the world at their fingertips. The maximum exposure one can think of. When I grew up, 'being social' meant having real friends to play, chat and fight with. Simple communication, all Face to face.
Now 'being social' in most cases is measured by one's Facebook account, number of FB friends, WhatsApp communications, online games, the PS, DS, MS, KS, XBOX, YBOX, ZBOX....whatever.
World-wide exposure. No doubt about it.
Parenting (without social media) was already a very difficult task. Now technology has made it even more challenging! Parents are struggling to fix the boundaries, both for themselves and the children.
Beware: These days the spankings, the boxing of the ears and the slaps do not exist anymore.
My 11-yr old recently got a smart phone. After the initial excitement of installing WhatsApp and creating a “family” group, aunt, cousins and me (I almost forced myself into it) here’s what followed;
Junior: Ma, I think I may need a Facebook account now.
Me: I don’t think so.
Junior: But why Ma? I am 11 yrs old and most children in the class have Facebook.
Me: [desperately trying to figure out an answer, a clever one at that]: I agree. Actually you should have FACEBOOK. (He smiled, surprised by this unexpectedly quick approval)
Me (continued): Actually you should have many FACEBOOK accounts. Many REAL FACES and many REAL BOOKS!!
(If only looks could kill!!! he had difficulty even accepting the answer, let alone reacting to it…
I was actually impressed with my response but his (no) reaction left me speechless.)
FACE here symbolizes a live face to face communication, BOOK symbolizes real book, and FACEBOOK symbolizes social media and technologies that take you far away from the two above.
Nothing wrong in using social media. I love to use it too. The level of worldwide connectivity that we have today is awesome.
The whole challenge is in the “balancing” act. How much? When? Where to draw the line?
THE FACE: The advent of technology has no doubt opened up the world for us. Getting in touch with school friends from 30 yrs back is no less than a miracle. The fact that these friends that you connect with can be anywhere in the world is absolutely fantastic. But somehow it has deprived us of our face to face conversations. The ‘smart’ phone has made it even worse. It is a small device which has created a big diversion. The urge to quickly check the phone WHILE talking to someone face to face is immense. Talking on the phone is also becoming obsolete, because we type to talk! The problem is that we are ‘always connected’. The small charms of a sudden phone call or an unplanned coffee is gone. I feel, in all the madness of being “always connected” we are ignoring THE FACE around us.
Keep the balance! — I keep reminding myself.
THE BOOK: Reading books is gradually on the decline. E-books have captured the market. How on earth can you read if you do not smell the book and feel the paper? Some will smirk and say “huh, old generation!”. I agree. Told you, must be my mid- life crisis!
Have you recently looked at the spellings used in Whatsapp and FB?
“if only i cud, wud hv bin gr8!” How are we using the time that we are saving by not typing all the alphabets? Once again, it must be my thyroid…
What books taught us (apart from the content) is to be patient. Wait, observe, read, ponder, and turn a page. Unfortunately in a hurry to be there ‘all the time’ we are gradually letting go of THE BOOK.
Keep the balance! — I keep reminding myself.
THE FACEBOOK: This is a miracle after the invention of bread toaster. I have nothing against it. I myself use it a lot, in most cases to share my blogs. However, its use is sometimes done in such a way that it makes one question, the intent of the tool. Some people in their FB avatar completely forget that it is a public forum and sharing each and every detail about their personal lives is neither required, nor interesting and above all, not safe!
Technologies that govern us these days are so ‘instantaneous’ in nature that we have forgotten to wait. You write a message on WhatsApp and wait to see that small tick turn green which means your friend read it and then stare at the screen to show ‘…. is typing’.
The online games are rewarding the kids every minute, a coin, a star, few more points…all “instantaneous”! They want the results NOW! No patience.
Keep the balance! – I keep reminding myself.
I received a video from a friend which addresses this issue, in rhymes. While having breakfast one day I thought of sharing it with my 11 yr old. He likes rhymes and this is such a relevant topic. The title of the video was “Look up” , the message clearly asking us to look up from our smart phones and recognize the opportunities that pass by us.
He liked it.
I was happy.
I should have left it at that.
But the mother in me was greedy …wanted more out of it.
Me: [meaning to start a good discussion] What I take away from the video is the fact that when we really talk face to face it is not only the words that we say but also our expressions that make a difference in our communication.
Junior: Maaaa, why do you think they made the EMOTICONS??
It was my turn to be speechless. It must be the age or the thyroid.
This article is my opinion. The main objective is to trigger your thoughts and listen to them by sharing
mine. My daily experiences, although challenging at times, also makes me smile….
Written byDayeeta Roy
Dayeeta, has her hands full being a mother of one, wife of one and full time job of one.A Physicist by education and a researcher by profession, she enjoys her daily work very much.She loves to cook, writes two blogs and wants to see the world.She says, “Family, Food, Friends & Fun.......I have everything!!”