“Rest in Peace” or RIP – three touchy words which implied a silent prayer for the departed has morphed with the same text, but lacking the human touch. Treading many deaths of near and dear ones in the last couple of years, with upsurge of exhibitionism in different avenues of social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Goggle, LinkedIn etc., it highlighted the abstruse three words.

We all are aware, death is the inevitable prognosis of being born. We aren’t aware of its timing only. For some, it might occur unpredictably at an incredible age under off-the-wall situations. For others, it is the aftermath of an aging process, the life span varying in different individuals. In realistic terms, it is the termination of a mortal process, the finale of the physical being. In our mortal life, this marks the ultimate interaction with the individual, be it in present or past reality, or virtual reality of social media.

No doubt, in the www age, social media has become a part and parcel of our existence today. With messaging, human interaction weaned to the press of a button. Even that click on the button would’ve had the same effect, where silence is only mode of condolence verbalism. In few deaths over a couple of weeks of close friends, amid a thread of condolence messages, it was a blow out of the water to see other ‘common friends’ suddenly posting their or family’s pictures with the ongoing thread. Was it the right moment? Opinions may vary, arguments may be put forward for justification “Just because someone has died, doesn’t debar anyone from posting selfies and other pictures”. Is it appropriate for a disco dance in a Sraddha milieu? Accepting both are part of life. Taken aback, balled over even in techno-savvy progressive milieu, I was at a loss. Where are we heading? Is human relation all about fanfare of presence?

It raised a critical question, where are we advancing?

Having spent most of my life without the social media, either to boost the identity or inter-personal communication, a gift from Alexander Graham Bell after its repeated alteration, had been the communique mode, wired or wireless. When a caller called, I could feel a human voice with fragment of emotions in its tone. With smartphones gradually percolating the communique scenario, it shortened to texts than voice, where the message was obvious, emotions weren’t. With wildfire of social outlets, the costing texts found its way to the internet domain, which didn’t charge for individual messages. Yep… financially more viable. Until then or recouping old confrères was good enough function of the nascent social platform sprouting without structure, direction or legislation.

More than interactive communiqué, it soon became a platform of political slogans and publicity machinery, family album and worse still an hourly calendar reaching perilous expressions of psychological insufficiency or precisely identity crisis. The celebrities flooded it with their media clips, desperate to establish a niche amid muddled identity. If one is known, does he/she need to harp the media presence on a periodic basis? If one delves deeper into the psyche, element of insecurity is at its crux. For those, not fortunate to be a celebrity, basked in their reflected glory with other celebs, posting pictures with them, thereby appending to celeb penury.  This soon led others treading the trail posting pictures initially with their family and friends, later of themselves alone or in group as ‘selfie’. Even eminent persona joined in the trend. Often these picture posts are on a daily to an hourly basis, endorsing their mental deprivation only to be classified by American Psychiatric Association as ‘SELFITIS’, a psychological disorder. A fresh mode evolved in its presentation. For any social or national occasion, the greetings included a picture of their profile.

What Swami Vivekananda actually meant by ‘leave a mark in life’, the social bundle re-defined him in their own interpreted light of selfitis.  With human interaction waning to the press of a button, even in adequate human milieu, people became mobile freaks. It became more important to post a cosy dinner in social media than enjoy it in the company of others. Technology took over the reins of human interaction shoving them into solitary tech isolation. As human interaction diminished, in despair people clung more to the social platforms. Rather than cultivate furtive qualities, exhibitionism without content became the avenue of ‘leaving a mark in life’. People stopped reading, understanding. Supplementing with ‘likes’ to gain popularity or other vested interests trying to build a footmark in virtual world hoping for its reflection in reality, which expectedly was amiss.

Often, it makes me wonder, whether these ‘likes’ on profiles mean anything at all, other than slaking a desire of existence amongst some. Any adverse opinion is distraught which could result in being ‘unfriended’ or ‘blocked’. A virtual world thus survives on same principles as reality “Talk my language or you aren’t in my world”. This further proves the insecurity in a desperate attempt to gain a herd of cliques. Everyone may not be a celebrity, but the insecurity is same for all. They forget it is themselves they can only control. It’s their inner strength which establishes the identity, not a herd flocking around or endorsing their silliness.

The ostentation is reaching dangerous heights on these new established platforms. The more the exhibitionism, more the human pauperisation. Technology has advanced to catalyse human interactions. When it takes over humanity, what technological robots is the future creating? Another Frankenstein? Time to ponder than leap.

Cover Artist : Aditi Chakraborty

 

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