Are you social on social media?

I have always wrestled with that obstinate hiccup when it comes to writing open letters to my spouse and children on special days, celebrating milestones and happy occasions.

Published: 26th June 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th June 2022 01:55 PM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only. ( Express Illustration)

Are you social on social media?

I’m not. That’s an honest admission.

I have always wrestled with that obstinate hiccup when it comes to writing open letters to my spouse and children on special days, celebrating milestones, and happy occasions. It makes me experience a twinge of a hesitation each time I think of baring my heart and putting down my personal relationships in the flapping ramparts of Facebook or Instagram, for the entire world to experience and comment upon. Call me an anomaly, an ambivert, as I am a complete antithesis of my online personality in real life, but I do feel the sociology of social media brings in a convivial peep into the happenings in the everyday lives of people—sometimes, a tad too artificially bright. Perhaps my opinion of people logging into their accounts to post a worldwide alert on their health matrix, before they are moved into the critical care and saddled to the ventilator has something to do with it

I recall the initial exultation when I began locating and was simultaneously connected with scores of my classmates from school and college as Facebook slid into existence, creating cyber ripples. I valued (and still do!) the timely birthday and anniversary reminders that pop up promptly. Over the years, the ‘friends’ have increased, the community has grown, nourishing a sense of belonging to alumni groups and cursory connection with changing work colleagues, and has then over the years evaporated into a state of near-flippancy with social media accounts reduced to a reflection of airport check-ins and location check-outs.

Since sharing initially slithered away in the far recesses of my must-do online list, there were no kiddie achievements to report on the digital platform and net in applause for. For me, my digital handles function as an extension of my brand in the web world. Not as a faucet of freewheeling emotions, leaping up to amplify all that is deeply personal and private. There is a defining line, emerging by default, for me.

Perhaps it is a gen-shift. The perimeters between personal and public life dissolve completely for most people, especially the juniors, as I look around. There is a sense of self-validation that flows in generously from unknown, barely known, new quarters, encouraging people to share their naked emotions and heavily opinionated pieces. All while personal, jocular messages from strangers drumming up familiarity for a lark pour in, with friend requests from people unheard of. 

Yet I admire the ability in others to put down their schismatic spurts, aching memories as loved ones depart, and tot-chronicles on posts. Everyone loves a compliment, and everyone looks younger, ageless, and wrinkle-free in the digital zone. Social media is an informative funnel, fantastic for dipping eyeballs into a sea of psychedelic images and riveting info. But as we turn social with a vengeance, beyond the initial niceties, and while the ‘likes’ and emoticons mount, there are slightly elevated feelings of envy we do generate and experience, while browsing through filter-tipped pictures, agonising over pinched waistlines, boneless flexible bodies, lifestyle artistry and more.

Our relationships with ourselves, and with others around us, stand revised through social media sunglasses. It is diluted. I’m still filtering this change. Are you?

Shilpi Madan

Mumbai-based journalist and editor


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