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The social media trap

How digital disruptions in our lives are adding to the stress....


A recent news report in the Hindu about the addiction of youth to Wikipedia and how it affected his sanity was disturbing. The truth is that for every one such incident that has been reported, there are several such incidents that go unreported. We have heard and read about so many tragedies where youngsters have met with fatal accidents while trying to click a selfie. Thanks to Whatsapp, there is a new kind of disease that has gripped some of us and I would call it – Whatsappmania.

Whatsapp is an excellent networking tool on the social media platform. It enables people to share certain events regardless of geographical barriers. The messages are conveyed instantaneously through the smart phone. Thanks to Whatsapp and the smart phone, long lost friends have been able to connect with each other.

This certainly calls for celebration. The success of Whatsapp indicates the marvels that technology can do for us. However on the flip side we are also increasingly relying on technology and sadly becoming over reliant and over dependent on it. Earlier colleagues were sending E-mails within the office and nowadays colleagues seem to be sending whatsapp messages to each other within the same office. When the boss sends a message then there is a clamour among his sub ordinates to reply to the message, praise the intellect of the boss and send different kinds of smileys and thank you messages to the boss. Fawning has now taken on a new meaning. I am sure people have got used to greeting each other only through Whatsapp so that they need to open their mouth only for stuffing food inside.

Recently a few of our schoolmates initiated a whatsapp group. It felt so nice interacting with them after a gap of 30 years. However after the initial euphoria died down, some classmates preferred the Garbosque route of staying away from the group. To our utter dismay, some of our friends started bombarding us with daily messages and forwards that they had received from others.

One of my erstwhile classmates who is working in a private bank in Mumbai has been sending Whatsapp messages and forwards left, right and center. The malaise has reached such an alarming level that she keeps sending these jokes and other irrelevant stuff – be it early in the morning or late in the night. It is clear that she has become addicted to it. All of us know that she is spamming us – but we don’t want to tell her this - lest she gets hurt/ offended. But what is amazing is – how can a bank employee send such messages bang in the midst of business hours?

There have been reports of people getting frustrated and dejected just because someone did not respond to their messages. The tremendous increase in Whatsapp traffic containing unnecessary and irrelevant messages does not augur too well for the future. As is always wont, people have got used to abusing technology.

Students sending messages to each others in the class rooms is another pain point that has been reported in some sections of the media. Such messages can cause great intrusion when a child is preparing for examinations. If someone is not on Whatsapp then others look at him/her as if they have committed a big sin. Earlier we had heard and read about Emailitis wherein some individuals keep sending Emails to others to showcase their writing/other achievements. There are some who send such unsolicited mails without realizing that they are actually spamming others. As if all this is not enough, the amount of false information that is spreading through such social networking tools is even more alarming.

Social media is a trap. One should know how to get in and how to get out. One should know how to get involved in it without expecting much in return. We need to respect others’ time. If you are a writer, it is worthwhile to get your articles published in newspapers or magazines instead of forwarding it to all and sundry. If left unattended, the social media trap can lead to a host of psychosomatic illnesses and this is what we need to be alert about. Vigilance is the key. The likes and dislikes that we get on a facebook post or photograph do not define our personality. This is the truth that we need to come to terms with sooner or later. 

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