March 09, 2011

The wall.

I wonder if people read blogs anymore. In this time of status updates and millisecond micro updates aka tweets, do people have the patience to read personal blogs anymore? I ask because there was a time when I used to read blogs and the only blogs I seem to be reading now are technical ones. Instead, I log onto Facebook and stare at my wall. Now, the wall is many things at once. It's sort of a buzzing microcosm of lives (reminds me of Michael Crichton's 'Prey'). Much like Jack's beanstalk, there is no limit to its growth. If you run out of new status updates to read, you can always go back in history and read what people thought two days back (If explained to someone a decade back, they might have questioned the very sanity of why one would do that). And here we are, trying to cling on to the wall while at the same time peering over our shoulders to stare at the drama unfolding elsewhere on the wall.

Prey    meets :)  Jack and the Beanstalk

I guess in a way, our virtual life has brought us back full circle. Man was and will always be a social animal. Perhaps earlier, he dropped by a neighbour's house to catch up on the little town gossip and lives of others and later; he dialed a bunch of numbers to do the same over the phone. He then progressed to chatting and developed a whole new language to do that. And now, he has multiple ways to share his life with all those people. Which is fun, come to think of it. Who doesn't like talking about themselves? And now, I can share my thoughts on my wall or tweet them and I have the satisfaction that I have sent me 2 cents out to the world at large to ponder upon.

This new way of virtual living raises some interesting questions. How does a person maintain a sense of mystery about him (assuming he wants to)? A friend of mine has not gotten herself a Facebook account. Still (I know!). She considers it a waste of time. Hmm, can't say I entirely agree with her. I follow technical pages on Facebook and I find a lot of useful information there. Even my workplace holds virtual conversations on Facebook! So, back to the mystery question. FB is addictive, we all know that but it also sorts of blurs boundaries that earlier existed in traditional settings. Take our workplace, for example. My colleagues are my facebook friends and know that r~ made a bookmark in the Morris book shop last Saturday, for example. And that little bit of info, somehow changes their perception of me. I am not sure if that's a good thing or not. It makes people seem more human -- all these random bits of trivia about them...

There's the whole long tail argument. If I were a salwaar-kameez clad, modern but tom-boyish teenage girl who likes languages but hates Math and also likes Savannah from Savannah, I might just find someone just like that on FB and then we can start a fan page with an uncommonly long name :)

And then, there's the whole twitching-fingers syndrome -- the urge to constantly stay up to date on the happenings of the wall. I wonder if the constant (albeit) slight adrenaline rush when we are privy to a new information bit will make our normal life seem a tad more boring? Nothing is happening every second of the day (except maybe your 2 year old let water flow from the sink to all the restroom shelves and let them soak the soft bathroom mats...oh! Long story!). And then, there was this article I read recently about how FB actually makes people sadder because they keep comparing themselves (some unconsciously) to the happy pictures and delightful wall updates and thinking their own lives don't match up (which is unrealistic, no one leads lives smiling with their face smushed to their lovely child's cheek all the time -- the next second, the child, for all we know, took a nice dab of blue paint and marked it on both their faces...)

Not sure what to make of all this innovation. Technology is changing. And we, with it. Of that, I am sure.

© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.