Before, I begin writing I want to tell something loud and clear. Whatever service I mention here Facebook, Whatsapp, Google, WeChat, Line are things which we all use after agreeing on their “terms and conditions” and I’m not accusing any of these services. In fact, I carry a lot of respect for each of these brands and especially Facebook and Google. Facebook is one company which has kept fascinating me and their impact on this world can is substantiated by it’s highest IPO ever in the Internet history having a market capitalization of $104 billion dollars at it’s peak. So, this post records my observations about the digital society and I’ll try to make it as interesting as possible.About Google, I won’t speak anything. There is a 99.9% chance that you landed on this webpage through Google which speaks for it’s impact on us.
Societies are built by people and digital society is no exception to it. In the real society faces are peoples’ identity but in the digital society, people are recognized by their profile pictures. The important components of this society are Google, Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp (at the student level and not at the professional level). I’m not going to speak about the privacy constraints which the digital society has but I’m just going to register some of my observations.
There is one very interesting stat which I read about facebook. For every viewing session, a person clicks his OWN profile/timeline at least 8 to 10 times though he’s not updated anything new. And he clicks and views his profile photo if he/she is online at least 3 times a day though there are no new likes/comments for that pic. This stat made me think that facebook has definitely made some among us self-obsessed if not all ( I wonder!). This is definitely not a healthy stat and the more the digital society grows the importance of “I” also grows. Mark Zuckerberg is an intelligent man for many reasons but one main reason for not keeping an “unlike” button in facebook. If that had been the case, this blogpost would not have happened.
The digital society has evolved building itself with respect to the interests of the “You”. Facebook did create a revolution but we are responsible for it’s evolution. Every aspect of it was built keeping us in mind but during this process we failed to notice we’ve slowly become dependent on it. We live in two societies now, the digital society and the real society. Both are far different and the digital society makes use of VIRTUAL tools to paint the real society in digital mediums. During this migration to digital society, some among us have left our real identity.
Recently, I saw a pic on facebook which had an edited picture comparing the first year pic with the final year pic of college students. Apart from the change in the physical appearance, every one of them had EDITED the pic and posed stylishly. A picture which was earlier an identity for your profile earlier had now gained more importance. Every one wants to present themselves and they edit their pics as much as possible ( excluding a few :P). Facebook has made us visualize as celebrities which does increase our confidence but there are a few out there who live their lives FOR FACEBOOK. There are people especially teenagers who click every pictures and then think the next second, “Hey! I’ve got a new profile picture. If I post this, I’ll get many likes..” There was a new word added to the English language now called SELFIE and the definition given for this word is to take a picture of yourself using a handheld device. This word is an evidence as to how self-obsessed most people have become as a result of facebook. They pose weirdly to get more likes.! Pathetic. On another extreme, a classmate is a hosteler and she uploaded a profile pic. The next moment a liked popped up for her with a comment from another hosteler who was in the same room. I just couldn’t resist my curiosity and asked why did she comment the next moment when her friend was just beside her. She replied, “Nobody likes or comments for our pics! So we do it ourselves.”
This took me to another exploration to the fact that “Does beauty dominates the digital society?” “Does one persons’ praise grows jealously in another person?” A LIKE on facebook is valued SO much and it’s great if someone complements you with a genuine comment. It is without doubt a confidence booster but what IF you DON’T get it? Does that mean you’re being discriminated? Absolutely not! I still remember the tone with which that girl told me that. In the first place, she had the complex that she is not being LIKED on facebook, so she garnered likes from her NEAR sources i.e the girl sitting next to her. The thing with the digital society is that it only presents to us the GOOD picture and hides the darker ones of people. It never shows us the real picture. If somebody LIKES your profile pic in a new dress but does not recognize that when they meet you in the real world then that very act of liking that pic is pointless. So, never attribute the likes you get on facebook as an achievement unless what you’ve done is also appreciated in the REAL Society. One thing which some of my friends do is to remove their birthday date on facebook a day before their birthday, so that they could FIND OUT their REAL FRIENDS. These are people of another extreme who think a wish on the digital society cannot be considered a wish. I really don’t get this. Remembering someone’s birthday and wishing them on that day is special indeed but just because you’re wishing using facebook does not attenuate it’s value.
Facebook apart from photo sharing and connecting us digitally, it had helped us grow in many ways. Especially for people with artistic talents, it has been an excellent platform to publicize and grow. There are a BILLION PEOPLE on facebook hence if you’re truly talented, you’ll definitely be recognized. Not just in facebook, Youtube for short-films and budding directors, Soundcloud for Music, Flickr for Photographers, Blogger/Wordpress for budding writers/journalists, Twitter for REAL celebrities to connect with the public and many more. All have immensely contributed for the growth of facebook and you get noticed by people you can never even get access to in the real world. In the digital village it’s not HOW you get noticed but for WHAT you get noticed. For both the good and the bad, things spread like a virus.
Facebook is hardwired now into our lives and I can’t imagine how Life would be without this website. I’m not proud of this fact as it’s not good to be dependent on any virtual entity. But, we’re now increasing our footprint on facebook by checking in on the places we visit, by giving information about the books we’ve read, the food we like, the movies we’ve seen and the list keeps going on. If I make a search about my friends who like coffee I’ll get a list from Facebook graph search which lists my friends who’ve liked coffee and if they’ve checked in the places where they’d had coffee before. I believe in the near future it won’t be a surprise when a GPS-enabled mobile tracks all our movements and automatically updates it on facebook with a picture and automated caption !! Well, well, well.. then, in our timeline our Life is recorded. We can see what we’ve done and relive our past online. One ad which I saw recently showcased the Life of a girl in facebook as a open book. She put everything that happens in her Life online. How would Life be then? I don’t have answer to this question but as long our interests are not sold, it’s acceptable.
I’ve been ambling around a lot of things in this article unable to arrive at a conclusion. The primary flaw is that there is a disconnect between the Digital society and the Real Society. If the people who speak pleasingly in the digital world does not even look your face in the real world then that’s where FAKE FRIENDS starts proliferating. It’s always better to meet people in the REAL WORLD before adding them online, on your friends’ list. I don’t know how many people follow this already, but this is the best method. Another thing is to never advertise your life too much. Bad things posted by you will stay there forever, never fades. In the real world, as time passes by, things change but in the digital society it STAYS WRITTEN. One example is your Whatsapp “last seen at “. When I ping you/call you and you fail to answer. If I check your whatsapp “last seen at time ” and know you’re online then you can’t get away with lame excuses :P. Every activity in the digital society is recorded, so it’s better to play it safe. Maintaining a balance between the digital and the real society is the key to ensure that your life remains colorful everywhere and there should not be a mismatch between what you do in the two societies.
Thanks for reading patiently!
Image courtesy : Internet