Weaving a web of likes

It’s late evening and I am returning home from work. A glance to my right and I behold a dentist’s clinic on the first floor of a building. The dentist is working on the oral cavity of the open-mouthed patient who is stretched out on the dental chair.

What strikes me is that this procedure is being carried out without drawing the blinds on the glass façade. The blinds can be seen at the corners. Maybe, the clinic staff forgot to draw the blinds. Or it could also be a conscious effort at drawing the attention of people outside (read potential customers). I don’t know. I think of the distraction that this could cause to the dentist as he attends to the patient. Maybe this could be an isolated instance. I dismiss it.

But it sets me thinking. This desire for publicity, drive to draw attention, urge to flaunt one’s possessions, position, achievements or anything for that matter. One can understand the need to display goods and merchandise in the showcases and windows of shops. It is a business imperative to attract customers.

Look at gyms, almost always located on the first floor with full glass panels, the customers pedalling away their calories. Nothing wrong in that. A good business model actually. Attractive displays play a sensory role, activating the neural circuits associated with pleasure, satisfaction, reward and satiation. But this activity has now morphed into a super hedonistic, full-time occupation, where every act must be put up in the public domain. From a basically commercial activity to an individual obsession.

Eating out? Sitting in the airport waiting lounge? Shopping in the mall? On a holiday? The pictures must be posted on Facebook and satisfaction be taken from the number of likes. There is no hesitation in uploading pictures and videos which would have the more conservative squirm in their seats.

Why do we have to indulge in this? Critics may argue that it is just an innocent activity that uses technology to enhance personal happiness and establish relationships. But the nagging question still lurks — do we have to publicise every activity of ours? Is it necessary to seek approbation for everything? I ask myself, am I being old-fashioned and prudish or is it an indication of the direction in which humanity is headed — a no-holds-barred display of most personal matters and no questions asked too?

Another manifestation of this craving for attention is making statements on Twitter on every conceivable subject under the sun, setting off ‘viral’ responses and Twitter wars. I thought technology was meant for the betterment of human life, not for hastening human degradation!

We put up personal data in the public domain and then talk about privacy, data misuse and so on. The line between privacy and openness is a thin one which needs careful treading. Else, we humans run the risk of dehumanisation!

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Weaving a web of likes

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