The wonderland of social media
K S S Pillai
Visits to friends’ houses have become embarrassing, thanks to the widespread use of social media sites. Almost all members of the household, from children to grown-ups, are busy with their cell phones. They glare at you as if you were a pest intruding upon their privacy. Even while talking to you, their eyes are glued to their cellphones. You leave in a hurry, resolving not to repeat the mistake.
With online classes becoming the new normal, cellphones have become an integral part of youngsters. In the process, they have come across a new world of social media that enables them to remain in close contact with their friends through chatting, sharing thoughts, opinions, photographs, videos and whatnot.
The elders are not far behind. In the past, people beyond a certain age used to spend their time worrying about the impending journey to the other world. They used to read religious books, pray, visit places of worship and do everything that would help them to bypass the frying pans of hell and get an entry into heaven. That is no more the case. They have moved with the time and spend more and more time with their cellphones, taking occasional help from the youngsters. They are so comfortable with the sites that it is to them that they turn to announce events like their birthdays and wedding anniversaries.
A birthday is no more a private affair. The ceremonial cutting of a cake while the assembled friends and relatives intone ‘Happy Birthday!’ before cameras has become an essential part of the celebration. The protagonist is so engrossed in looking at the camera that sometimes a piece of cake is thrust into someone’s nose instead of the mouth. The photographs are immediately uploaded on various sites for the whole world to see.
With the present restriction on the number of persons allowed to attend a wedding, it is brought live to the absentees through the media. Wedding anniversaries, announcing so many years of ‘happy togetherness’ are also there for all to see.
I was under the misconception that we preferred sons to daughters. Every daughter is now a ‘princes’, and the uploaded photographs show how the members of the whole family vie with one another in showering their love on her. If she has drawn a picture, sang a song, danced, or participated in a game at her school, the photographs of the highly talented ‘princess’ are instantly posted with the request that they be commented upon, liked, and shared.
“Miss U, Dad/Mom,” is the usual caption in the case of the death or death anniversary of one’s parents. Special ‘days’ like Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, or Valentine Day will also attract appropriate posts. The purchase of a new car is announced with photographs of the ‘new member of the family’.
The same is the case with a new house. Pets like dogs or cats with fancy names are not untouchable animals as in the past, but inseparable companions, even sharing beds. Dinner at a restaurant, with details of the menu, or a visit to a tourist spot is duly photographed and posted. If one is confined to his home, at least some scenes of sunrise or sunset from his house are posted to announce what a nature-lover he is. For some people, it is unthinkable to start a day without posting some famous quotes, spilling out the secret of happy living.
Children getting their degree certificates, retirement functions, farewell parties, and similar events are to be publicised with photographs. If someone known to you is posted to a high office, he has to be congratulated online, particularly if it is an office you could take advantage of in the future.
We have become so addicted to social media sites that life has become unimaginable without them.
(The author is a retired professor of English. A regular contributor to The Kashmir Vision, his articles and short stories have appeared in various national and international publications)