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E-motions sans emotions

By Sudhirendar Sharma 0:09 IST

Since a lot goes into human emotions, I have difficulty with digital emoticons.

Festive season reminds me about the transformation the world of sharing seasons’ greetings has gone through. From the days, when as teenagers, we were made to ferry plateful of sweets to neighbouring households to later years, when we often poured emotions in hand-drawn greeting cards, the subtlety of sharing emotions were to become outright blatant in the following years.

Telephonic greetings and printed cards arrived much later, by which time greetings had started bearing a crass reflection of social and economic status. Emotions were tagged to a price, and the trend is in vogue till this day!

As far as new trends go, today’s gadget-friendly generation is a step ahead – for them emotions are a product of digital technology. The manner in which they use bland text, a passive status and predictive smiley makes one believe that the youngsters, and even some of their senior followers, have run out of emotions. A conscious expression of thoughts has given way to copied text and downloaded visuals. Need it be said that the realm of digital communication has unleashed a world of electronic emotions around us?

I am as disturbed as novelist Ayn Rand would have been, who considered ‘emotions as a product of man’s premises, held consciously or subconsciously, explicitly or implicitly.’ Since a lot goes into making of human emotions, I have difficulty with the digital emotions. Consequently, I try not to acknowledge text messages, bulk greetings and e-cards.

For me, cut and paste emotions that are re-invented and re-sent are worthy of quick deletion, as these are but a reflection of the general drift of our culture. I like conventions. I like a personal touch to greeting family and friends. May be, digital greetings don’t assure me of the attention that I think I deserve! But much to my discomfort, passive electronic emotions continue to fill-up the virtual space. Mediated by communication technologies, such as touchscreen, emotions too have become packaged products which can be clicked and picked online. Despite my personal dislike for digitised emotions, I am still convinced that it has given a convenient vent to positive emotions for a large majority who may not be able to afford the economics of sharing greetings (printed cards, expensive gifts etc) the traditional way.

Ever since ‘emoticons’ were launched on the internet, human emotions have got a non-human face to them. These “environment-friendly” emotions have been downloaded and shared several billion times. Not sure if they make the recipients happy, though.

But what worries me is the accumulation of negative emotions in the process. While positive emotions exit through the e-route, negative emotions fail to escape the our minds. No wonder, pent-up emotions and hidden aggression increasingly confront us as a society. Be it unprovoked violence in social platforms or increasing incidences of road rage, negative emotions are finding a variety of violent escape routes. The trouble is, that unlike emoticons these emotions cannot be easily deleted from our lives! Or is there some way negative emotions can be shown a credible electronic exit route?

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