©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

Come December and its the season of weddings. Be it DeepVeer, Nickyanka or the Ambani extravaganza, this year it seems to be unending. Social media has gone into a frantic frenzy with hundreds of shared images of exquisite wedding locales, star studded finery and mouth watering quisine! …..You can’t blame me from feeling a tad jealous of our dear, Sabyasachi! The man can practically retire now with enough savings for the next three generations! …..Having said that, if I am subjected to viewing anymore WhatsApp videos and pictures of weddings, I will probably start pulling my hair off!

Talking about the unfairness that life bestows upon us, the luck of a good looking but written off heir has suddenly turned around and jitters are being felt all over. Even Lord Ram himself could not prevent this from happening! The half blood prince has defied the odds and it looks like the tug of war has just become a wee bit more difficult. Well, luck does favour a few, however it seems like the political discussions have shifted base from being living room conversations to WhatsApp group conversations with members being divided into different camps… Unfortunately, more often than not, it hardly takes any time for these conversations to transform into acrimonious arguements. Social media lets you hide behind the anonymity of your phone and somehow it is always easier to be rude to a “message” than to a person.

And while most of us lowly mortals have to employ agencies to beef up the following of our social media accounts, there is a star baby that has become an instant internet sensation and has more than a million instagram followers who ogle at his every move! Mind you the following is consistent for over a year which is almost as long as he has been on this earth! Ofcourse this is the aspiration that parents must set for their newborn babies! Being a social media celebrity carries more significance today than getting good grades in school! Who cares if your kid has topped the class or won a difficult debate. The paradigm has shifted and today success is judged on the basis of totally different parameters.

So what is it that I am getting at? We all are aware that media is one of the least trusted institutions in the history of mankind. We already know that whatever the media feeds us has to be taken with a pinch of salt.

However, what about social media? In my mind social media is the true reflection of the society that we live in. While conventional media shoves things down our throats, social media is what we “want” to see….

Unfortunately, today I dont see much difference between what is shown to us and what we want to see. And that is the concerning bit. We are so taken with the irrelevant, that most of us are forgetting what is relevant to us. We spend hours scrolling on our phones looking at stuff that is of no significance. We ogle and quibble incessantly about insignificant trivia. We feel compelled to respond and react to stuff thay may or may not concern us directly. Our ability to express an uncensored opinion obviously boosts our ego and gives us a false sense of importance.

In times to come, I guess self restraint will be an extinct quality and all we will get to hear is incomprehensible noise.

There is no doubt that social media is powerful and just like every other powerful medium, it can go both ways. Potential for good is as high as potential for harm. With great power comes great responsibility and this time the onus lies on us. Lastly, I pray that while social media continues to rule our lives, we stop treating people as just a “number” and begin to look at them as a “person” once again.

©Dr. Aparna Govil Bhasker

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