Bubble, Bully Or Bhedh Chaal!?

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It’s certainly your book of life and yes it’s all being taken on the face value. Nobody knows who you are or what you do these days until you post it on the famous Facebook. Actually, even if you do, the status remains pretty much the same.

Imagine, if Facebook had to shut down would you still be in a “powerful” position that you think you are in by having that overflowing ‘friend’ list? It’s one of those questions that aren’t really asked for an answer.

Why this question makes a pinching sense is because these days social media, more so Facebook, has got people to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise have. ‘I am here, I am there’ posts are still fine but it is touching a level where they boast of Facebook friendships in personal talks. Even worse, people discuss viral videos. People discuss who commented what on whose ‘status’. People discuss pictures on Facebook and how many ‘likes’ it received. People discuss each other’s dresses and don’t repeat clothes since everyone has seen it – where? Well.

Is that all left in this world to talk about? Who were you as a person when there was no Facebook? What can be more terrible than to see your identity die a slow death and not even be aware of it.

There is no offline conversation that I know of that doesn’t starts or ends at Facebook. “Oh! Are we friends on Facebook?” (No dude, we just met, we could become friends but now, sure not) “He’s doing xyz, actually, I saw it on his timeline” (It’s called stalking not being friends, btw). Such statements in itself depict lack of depth one is left with.

There were days when people would meet and greet each other genuinely and sometimes the source of connection would be a genuine mutual friend. It would make a wonderful conversation. I personally treasure mutual connections that are more meaningful. Like, this girl I met in my fitness club off lately who recognized me as her school senior and mentioned about my Dance teacher who she is fond of. There was a real talk, real liking and real emotions. No ‘likes’ and ‘emojis’ there, thankfully.

Being in touch and being in a bubble are two different things. Social media is a bubble that’s eating up people’s real personalities bit by bit. They are attempting and doing things for the sake of ‘likes’. Pre-wedding photo shoot is one prominent example. Wonder, if it’s of any importance if it doesn’t go on social media in an attempt to blow everyone’s mind. There are pictures of babies, toddlers and young kids in multiples floating online. It’s the new ‘aunty ko woh karke dikhao’ where the aunty is not even asking for it and still shoved with antics that she better ‘likes’ okay! Else, she ain’t getting back any ‘likes’ the next time she flaunts her new cuisines and curtains. What an unsaid bully this has become!

Towering talks of amending the Indian society fall flat as this new-age virtual society takes shape, even before you know it. The parallel growth of it is nothing but appalling to say the least where people have formed mutual admiration clubs and it’s about time that ‘likes’ be turned into ‘licks’. This Mr. X I know would bitch about another popular Mr. Y and one day I saw Mr. X taking Mr. Y’s help on social media for his humongous following as he launched a new venture. (:

Can you do things and not tell people? Can you do things and not seek approval through ‘likes’? Do they really ‘like’ you or the designation of the corporate you represent? In fact, ask if you were ‘added’ because of you or for your designation? And where were you added really… in their lives or in their bulging ‘friend’ list?

Talking about Twitter, there are occasions when people follow people in fear of losing them as followers and there are people who follow with an expectation that you will follow them back. There was a guy in one of the organizations I worked who would regularly ask me to follow him on Twitter but as a person he wasn’t even worth keeping any contact with.

Those who have a huge following have turned influencers. I tell you who an influencer is – he/she is someone who can talk about his/her personal opinion on a social media, like any other day, for a brand and be paid for it. And this payment is not even in thousands for a majority of them. Since the brand is looking for a wider reach, it would never pay a large amount to a few unless the influencer is a celebrity. It would have more people talking about it and pay peanuts, something like 50 or 100 rupees/tweet.

Basically, influencers are mini buzz-worthy people where their ‘friend’ list and ‘followers’ count are their only identity – what they write, how they write is never considered. I can tell you that many of these influencers, who were once living an unknown Facebook life with a good following, have joined the herd after coming to know of it as an option where they can monetize their following. But is this even a robust or a long-term thingy? Doubtful to say the least.

Latest example of Sandeep Aggarwal, Co-Founder, Shopclues, being congratulated on Twitter by such influencers, social media experts, random people with some following and trending was one such incident that took me by surprise. It was much like on the lines of Reliance Jio launch when the brand sent out a similar tweet to celebrities and they posted it and in turn, trolled for their obvious paid promotion.

I had put up a status on it on Facebook – some publicly commented on it and some privately sent a message in the inbox. Similar reaction happens when I post a picture of mine. Some would openly love and comment the way they want while some would inbox how hot or pretty I look. Everybody is subtly being dictated by Facebook and its evidently ruling their minds that somewhere their reputation is at stake.

Moreover, there’s an irony that has started to prevail in blogging after it has become a category per se. You, as someone who wrote a blog, always had an opinion in isolation, wanting to sometimes post it publicly and sometimes not, to achieve a sense of poise but if you are having this continuous urge to have a following on it then aren’t you trying hard to be accepted? You are the same person who wrote it since you wanted to put out a different thought process and the one who now wants acceptability on it. Strange.

And why are there constant efforts being put out by bloggers and influencers to get a following? Because money has come into the scene. Making money is not a problem. It’s fine to make money through something that’s talk of the town but what is being put at stake amid all this and in what capacity is something that needs an introspection. It’s a race everyone’s running without knowing where they all will end up. Some of these people don’t even look eye to eye at the events and sometimes even forcefully land themselves an invitation.

There have been incidents on Facebook where official Pages boasting of thousands of food lovers apparently have been at loggerheads for plagiarizing content and lifting pictures. One of the plenty of the conversations I remember was with a popular café owner who told me he was bullied to serve free food and drink to this food reviewer on Zomato, who would rate him and his property badly if not done so.

The Public Relation officers have stopped differentiating between a serious journalist and a blogger writing in a similar beat. Journalism is a serious profession but blogging is still finding its feet. There’s a visible & clear difference between a journo-turned-blogger, a journo and a blogger. It’s overlooked, however. Reason? Brands want a reach. Period.

Relationships are getting diluted. I recently had a school friend reaching out to me to talk about her food blog on my Facebook timeline. I politely refused and told her I would either do it for a social cause or something that’s making a difference to someone’s life. What is understood by this is that she wanted to have more “following” and I wasn’t approached as a school friend but someone who has a following, visibly so.

If I don’t respond to people after having ‘seen’ messages, they’d turn their back on me. I have to deal with “badhe log”shit and many think am at a certain level now (which is obviously in their heads) and have “changed”. Since when did the right to choose to use your own Facebook and Whatsapp went under people’s lens…

There are people who would judge you by your following. The ‘likes’ on your Facebook have started to determine your worth. It’s almost like as if you are turning richer day by day with every ‘like’ on social media. It’s so damn amusing.

When I was in Kerala, as a part of #KeralaBlogExpress, fellow bloggers made an observation about my instagram account and questioned as to why I don’t follow anyone there. To which my answer was, “generally, I only post stuff and that’s about it. I don’t want to regularly know what others are doing. Those who are interested in knowing me as a person will follow me.” And that’s pretty much what my standing is for Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools as well. Their reaction was like, “Oh! Are you one of those who follow and then unfollow for followers…” I didn’t even understand what it meant that time but later realized it’s one of the tricks frequently used on social media channels.

However, social media allows people to connect real-time and post things that otherwise won’t find a say or need immediate attention. Groups/forums that help and find solutions are worth applauding for. It’s amazing and revolutionary!

But then there are those who would make Groups to promote their products and keep adding people without their consent. Some of these don’t even have a strong reason to exist but still they’d happen for the sake of connecting more and more people and to own a Group that has people and more people. Crazy!

The questions you need to ask urgently is – if I don’t have followers, if I don’t have hundreds of ‘likes’ on my pictures and posts, would I still be wanted? Would people really love and adore me for real, the way they write it in their ‘comments’… Am I really making a difference to myself and people around me at work or just getting their ‘likes’ because of the designation I hold.. What is the kind of investment I am making into social media – of time, money and mind – and if it’s worth it? Am I really a good human being or just someone who is getting clicked at charities occasionally to post it on social media…

Are you using social media or getting used by it…

The last bit of the last question is the answer too, btw.

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