See you online then!

See you online then!

VIRTUAL LIFE

See you online then!

With most people spending most of their lives online, the society seems to be turning somewhat hypocritical in real life when compared to the virtual life, opines Rachna Chhabria.

Before a new car has been driven home, its picture is uploaded on the net. Congratulatory messages pour in while the car and its proud owner brave the traffic.
Everyone is hitching a ride on this overcrowded online bandwagon.

It has made us develop an uncontrollable need to share the minutest details of our lives with people who have the barest claims to our friendship. Not everyone who lives in our laptops can be called a friend. Some are just acquaintances. Some not even so. What was started as a means of connecting with people has been relegated to the realm of “I, Me, Myself.

”It’s all about each individual’s greedy quest for their share of the virtual pie.
Instant Connectivity. Instant visibility. Instant feedback. That’s speed at its optimum best. It’s easy to forge a friendship. People are just a request away. Snapping ties is equally easy. Unfriend them or unfollow them. As simple as that. No tears. No dramas. Just one click does it.

Social networking sites have arrived like a huge online carnival, where there is something for everyone. Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and sundry other sites have brought people all over the globe close together. News breaks at the speed of lightning and spreads faster. Tweets are retweeted before one can blink. Videos and updates are shared by the time a smile crawls its way over our faces.

It’s wonderful to connect with childhood friends, hook up with college mates, keep in touch with relatives all over the world, meet new people with similar interests and other like- minded individuals. But, at a price.

At the cost of being bamboozled by other people’s news which overwhelms everything like a virtual hurricane, leaving us watching the aftermath with plenty of envy and also a bit of irritation that this virtual disaster evokes in us. Log into any site and it’s flooded with what people have been up to in the last few days. Which places they holidayed in, how did their day go, what did their medical reports diagnose, what is their family doing, how are their home renovations going, what did they eat at the gourmet restaurant.

Thoughts are weighed against the probability of whether it will make a good update or is worthy of a tweet. Pictures are seen in terms of their usefulness as suitable profile pictures. Do they enhance our image? Yes. Then upload. Does nothing for one’s virtual presence? Hit delete.

Online images are overshadowing our real personas. We have started judging people by the number of friends, followers and subscribers they have gathered close to their virtual hearts. Many are often told that they have a woefully small number of friends. One would think that they need to perk up their online presence for the fear of coming across as a virtual scrooge!

More often than not, these social networking sites replace a real friend or a neighbour. While a nosy neighbour is a pain in the neck, a vicarious need to share every intimate detail of their lives online is supposedly okay! From their hookups to breakups, from their Monday morning blues to Friday night grooves, nothing is sacrosanct.

Everyone wants to skirt on the edges of online popularity. It’s not just celebrities who tweet about small details of their lives, the common people have surpassed the celebrities in this race. A few hours after events start, or celebrations take place, the pictures are uploaded on the social networking sites.

We all have become quite opinionated. We have sound bytes on everything: politics, movies, fashion, sports, books and the state of the economy. The virtual world is brimming with pseudo-intellectualism. Quasi emperors are airing their opinions on blogs, face book and twitter and their eager followers are leaving their virtual footprints in the form of comments.

It’s not just the youngsters who have embraced their online persona with gusto, it’s the non-youngsters who are leaving them far behind. It’s not unusual to find septugenarians sharing their visual memories online. Childhood pictures, wedding albums, even old letters are shared with nostalgia.

Work pressures and time constraints make it difficult to keep in touch with friends and family even if they are in the same town. Traffic is such a dampener, that meetings are fixed online. It’s easier to meet people virtually than brave lethargic traffic. Slow internet servers not withstanding, that is.

Psychiatrists have said that this obsession with one’s online life is unhealthy. But who is listening? Fingers have overtaken the communication stratosphere. Tap keys. Scroll. Click. Upload. Download. Share. Like. These are the new words, which govern and guide a “net”izen’s life. This is one online party that shows no signs of winding down. It’s gathering more and more virtual merry makers who are bringing in all sorts of goodies to enhance the party experience.

So the next time your friend says, “Hey, let’s catch up,” and you ask “Where?” don’t be shocked to hear them say, “Online, ofcourse. I spend a few hours online every night after dinner, so see you there.”

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