Thursday, March 08, 2012
How 'Online Smart' are we?
The other day, I was surprised to see a status update on Facebook. So yes, a zillion inconsequential things appear on one’s timeline, but this took me by surprise. Or was it shock? Or disbelief? Or was it a sense of confusion?
Here was a person announcing his father’s death (I am sure, quite promptly) on FB. Now I was very uncomfortable when I saw this. I don’t know about you, but FB is the last thing that would be on my mind if I were in his place; forget announcing this news to all and sundry over there. To give him the benefit of the doubt, let me add that his father was a well-known artist and hence, he probably decided to let a wider audience know of it. But really? An FB status update saying ‘my dad is no more’ is the LAST thing I expected to see (okay, no – there are far weirder stuff going on there). And what’s more, there were 70+ odd comments on it and idiotically enough, one ‘Like’. Thank God there was only one! But I’d really like to ask that one person who ‘liked’ this post – what’s there to ‘like’ about someone losing his father?
I’ve always believed that we haven’t quite learnt how to use social networking sites. No one’s discreet about what goes up there – some really personal honeymoon snaps and/or crazy party pictures that people have uploaded (among others) drove me to this conclusion. I am not saying that one must fabricate one’s online persona so that it appears ‘cool’ on FB; it’s another thing that people are doing it to perfection with no instructions! But then, you must know what is okay to be seen and what’s not. I’ve also seen many girls (yes, ‘girls’ not ‘women’ – because they’ve not obviously grown up!) post how they miss their ‘better halves’ (probably he’s away on a trip, or she’s away from home). I mean, really? If you miss him, then you need to let him know that, not the rest of the world! And it’s anybody’s guess that phones exist, and they are already talking – but hell no, we need to know that she’s missing him oh-so-much. Give me a break!
I deviate – but not by much. There’s another phenomenon I’m not comfortable with. And that’s posting ‘RIP’ on a person’s FB Wall after he dies. I am sure you are also familiar with this. I had a senior pass away, a month or more back. And then I saw his wall being flooded with the ‘Miss You’, ‘RIP bro’ and the likes. I fail to fathom what this kind of solidarity is supposed to mean. Bereavement, I thought, was an intensely private experience. I am sure that you are sad at his demise, but is it essential to make a display of it by putting up such statements on his Wall? Is he going to read it? What purpose does it serve? If you need to offer any condolence, what you really need to do is go out there and offer some to his parents/relatives; if it means that much to you. Not mark a commiseration of sorts online.
I don’t know where this is headed, but I only wish people were a tad more sensible and sensitive, especially when it comes to personal tragedies. I still believe that some parts of our lives are sacrosanct. It’s for only us to know and for us to decide whom to share it with. Maybe collectively, we haven’t reached that place, where we know how to deal with things online – but I wish it was sooner.
P.S. I know, lame title. I couldn't get anything sensible to express what this post conveys. Suggestions?