Addiction in my growing up years meant craving for liquor, love or puffing away packets of cigarettes causing irreparable damage to liver, life and lungs respectively and then later in the years came the fixation on drugs, and the obsession to video games.
Hooked to it…yes then I realize that I waste so much of time on it and quit, only to latch on to another one, well this happened to me in 2010, when Facebook was taking the world by storm and I too like all others kept up with the Joneses or is it Kardashians and jumped on the bandwagon. It was exciting, exhilarating with maybe a superlative thrown in, the “most trendiest” thing to happen. I reconnected with my school, college pals, long lost in wilderness and got to see them in different roles and responsibilities but the essence of their character and personality remaining intact with a large majority.
The excitement did not last long, and the interest waned with the repetitive pokes that hurt me and my ego and ‘likes’ with twiddling thumbs, it was time to move on as the monkey was on my back refusing to get down. But social media has a rhythm of its own with its rehabilitation and rejuvenation programme in the form of another new application, not sure whether it makes us social butterflies but can make us like flies to manure! So, I shift my goal post to accommodate the new wonder, after all we can break all resolutions to accommodate newer interests. I took to blogging which was like a whiff of fresh air with the freedom to express and improve my writing skills with the liberty to speak my mind unequivocally and categorically, tell things that I could not dare to utter to people for fear of backlash. And of course, adulations, appreciations and affirmations came in small numbers that triggered my narcissistic temperament. This too tapered down when I fell to the temptation of monetizing, very much in tune with contemporary businesses and the desperate attempt to woo the readers and non readers alike to come and visit and pay obeisance which undoubtedly backfired given my marketing skills.
I turned to microblogging and jostled with the twitterati following faithfully and hashtag became my first name. I was living in a fool’s paradise with 140 characters keeping me away from real people around me.
From the frying pan to the fire, Whatsapp lured me into its den with its poisonous tentacles and as any netizen, was overawed by the messenger app that could share texts, images, videos and audio clips and yes, share, share and share by forwarding and forwarding multiple times that soon set the founders to think of disappearing messages lest they get forwarded again for the infinite time. Not to miss the whatsapp groups, the maternal and paternal family wallah coteries, the official and unofficial work groups, the present, past and future gilded cliques, the fringe small and secluded private groups to crib and cry foul on some x,y,z; outpourings of good morning messages, nostalgic journeys, more and more forwards that have all the ingredients of a potboiler – love, deceit, intellect, vibes, villains and many more.
I was freaking out, the toxicity was in the system, had to hold the tiger by its tail as there are official messages that come in which necessitates frequent peering into the green icon. I try all tricks – turn off the wifi and the data, keep strict time schedule to open, turn off all notifications, do selective reads of messages, desperate attempts to de addict; one gets the drift right, caught in the web, literally and figuratively!
I tried speaking to experts in the family when bang came the suggestion, “do what I do..hold your finger firmly and move it to youtube!” For a moment, I felt like I was offered nicotine patch to quit smoking. Hook, line and sinker, dived deep into amazing and atrocious videos in equal measures, from Gabriel, 3 minute crafts, 5 minute short funny videos, to mind boggler, astronomy, psychology and Mr. Beast, the green to red icon seemed to make a refreshing change, a surreal feeling of a dog with two tails subscribing, liking and turning on the notifications! I did add a fair share of the ad revenues in the process beyond doubt.
Linkedin was like full of the joys of spring, professional and matter of fact, networking with the best in the field, searching for the dream jobs, follow pages and people that interest you, track your ex and present on their employability quotient, and make us hyperactive by using the latest buzz words, be so unreal and fake, tell stories that can be liked, tagged, commented and certainly have page views!
Trapped in a quagmire, claustrophobic with lack of privacy, walking like zombies heads buried deep in their gadgets, wishing your loved ones sitting next to you through the social media apps, worried about what to post, and put as the display picture even when there is an apocalypse happening…oh… How I wish I was #offline and did not need social approval for everything and anything, not make every part of my life an open page, have empathy and not be obsessed with selfies, learning, laughing, networking but not on social media, not hankering for acceptance and belongingness, not seeking likes and follows, not live in an illusory and make believe world of connections but building true relationships that last a lifetime.
How I wish I left it alone….did someone ask me “what is your Insta id?” The “Signal” is weak, let me reboot….