Day 16: Social Media

Like it or hate it, social media has come to be a huge component of all social interaction today. It is also likely to stay that way in foreseeable future, regardless of the fortunes of individual social media giants like facebook or twitter. Facebook, the only social media network that I am active on, is already over the hill, I am told, while newer kids on the block (Pinterest, most notably) are apparently going from strength to strength. I’ll confine myself to facebook here though, because it’s the only social medium I am really familiar with.

In a set up where friend lists tend to run into hundreds if not thousands, it is inevitable that the term friend gets used in a very loose sense. In the very beginning, I was particular about only adding friends who actually were , or at least had been at one point of time,  friends with me. It dawned on me quickly enough that this was neither possible (for example, how can you not accept the friend request of the mother of  your child’s friend whom you have met and chatted with on a couple of occasions?) nor even desirable.

The whole point of the existence of social media is that you get to be in touch with people with whom you wouldn’t really be in touch with otherwise. It is the presence of your real friends there that is incidental–because you would be in touch with them anyway, wouldn’t you? For better or worse, anyone who was ever a classmate, a teacher, a neighbour, a colleague , a distant relative or even a passing acquaintance qualifies as a friend on facebook.

The idea of maintaining such facile contacts isn’t without its advantages–maybe they post witty updates, or awesome photos, or interesting links, or all of them –and then who knows who might turn out to be of help some day!

But then there is another side to this coin. Some of them can drive you right up the wall with their downright silly, irritating, mindless updates. Pet peeves are

i) share if you agree, share if you care, share if you have a heart, share if you love your mom/ dad/ sis/ bro/ neighbour’s wife’s third cousin updates

ii) obviously fake pics that suit certain agendas, again exhorting viewers to share them. I once got into a war of words with a school-friend– which got a little acrimonious– over a similar update.

iii) updates from those overly religious types which go on and on about God’s kindness and how whatever happens, happens for the good.

iv) updates from people who consider themselves to be unofficial spokespersons of certain political parties.

On another note, it is interesting how people show aspects of their personality on facebook that you never knew about. A friend from college, who is a doctor and a bit of a high-flier, turned out to have a talent for sher-o-shayari. Well, any day her poetry than inane share-posts! Another rather serious acquaintance recently posted pics  where he was obviously having a lot of fun with his pals–made me blink and look twice!

Presently, the best part of facebook for me is being part of a couple of wonderful groups. Also, being back in touch with very old friends who I had thought were lost forever. Of course it is never quite possible to actually rekindle long-ago-friendships and be on the same page again, but it is good to know where they are and what they are up to.

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7 Responses to Day 16: Social Media

  1. Fem says:

    My main use for FB these days is discussing on the groups. It’s great for me because in real life, I hardly know anyone who is interested in history or willing to discuss how to bring about practical application of feminism in everyday life. On FB, I have met a lot of kindred spirits. It also helps me keep in touch with friends living in other countries and with whom I don’t get to speak over the phone very often.

  2. I liked the Twitter idea.
    But 144 characters is too less for me.
    I need more than that just to clear my throat before typing something.
    Brevity is not my forte. Some American friends used to call me Verbose Vish.
    May be 144 words could have attracted to me to this forum. I can say something worthwhile and it wont tax anyone’s patience. I have found from experience that the attention span of most readers on line is about one screen-full, before they lose interest and start skimming over the contents, unless the content is really interesting.

    I opened a Facebook account two years ago after being persuaded by a friend
    I later closed it in a hurry!
    paras i), ii), iii) and iv) of your post.

    Besides it was too distracting, too intrusive.
    I have different kinds of friends/contacts , the immediate family, the office colleagues, the relatives, business/commercial contacts, on line friends with whom I interact but have never met or even likely to meet (like you and IHM) etc. I need different platforms for each.

    All that Facebook can supply, I get from my yahoo groups, my membership and participation in on-line forums, blog posts, blog comments, interesting web sites which I visit everyday and I do it on my terms, at my convenience and I can keep away those I am not interested in. I particularly like the idea of on line forums which have various sections and threads in each section. You follow and participate in just what interests you.

    Ever since spam filters started getting smarter, I have controlled spam email too.

    Reading blogs and commenting on them, and following the comments of others is what keeps me most absorbed, when I am online and also what I enjoy the most. I also enjoy writing an occasional long essay or report to be posted on yahoo groups email discussion lists. I am a member in seven such groups.

    Therefore No Facebook or Twitter for me.
    I am happy with what I now use.

    • //I need more than that just to clear my throat before typing something.// LOL!!
      My father opened an account on Facebook two years back but never liked it much. My mother, on the other hand, has taken to it like fish to water, and uses it to ‘like’ ALL the photographs of people she is fond of, apart from chatting with them!!

  3. Ashwathy says:

    The irony is, I am reading this post after knowing about Sunanda Pushkar’s death. And people are blaming it on social media. Ironical……….

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