In the recent interview with NPR, Charlie Brooker the writer of the show "Black Mirror" articulates an interesting hypothesis. According to him, we are not black and white. We possess different characteristics. We exhibit these character traits based on the situations and the people involved in the case. Social media are making us a monochromatic organism. I have oversimplified the concept. Charlie Brooker has eloquently put forward this reasoning in his own words.
Social media has made it as - you know, and the internet and technology in general has sharpened all of those things. I guess they've always been there, that performative nature of life has always been there that you sort of perform, you know, to everyone to an extent, don't you? You sort of perform your personality, I guess, to everyone on some level. It's just that I think it's more - well, my little theory is that we've got - that - I remember - my theory is that we've got - that we used to have several personalities, and now we're encouraged to have one online. So - but by which I mean I remember once having a having a birthday party - or was it a book launch? - something - anyway, a party.
And people from different aspects of my life showed up. So there were work colleagues who showed up and there were people I'd known since, like, college who showed up and there were people I'd only just met who showed up. And I behaved differently with all of these people in the real world. But once they were all together in one space and they were all mingled in in one group, if I walked over to them, I suddenly didn't know how to speak, do you know what I mean? Because, like, with some of them I'd be - I tried to be all intellectual and erudite and with others I'd just swear and curse and be an idiot. And suddenly, when they're all in one space, I don't know who I am.
And I kind of feel like the one sort of thing is that online you're encouraged to perform one personality for everyone. And I wonder if that's one of the things that's feeding into the kind of polarization that seems to be going on is that you're - I think that lends itself to groupthink in some way or some kind of lack of authenticity. I wonder if we're better - better equipped to deal with having slightly different
When you think deeper, aren't we wary about what we post on the social media? Sometimes we loosen up and then we end up in trouble. Consider the case of my friend who has been assigned a project which takes him to different countries in what is considered widely as an unexplored yet blessed continent. He works there for two weeks and travels back to his base. So what do you do on the weekend sandwiched between the two weeks? He explores the area. As a result, there are a lot of pictures which finds his way into the social networking sites. Very soon, a comment popped up on his stream. The author jokingly queried if he was having too much fun and too little work. In a closed room, this comment would have evoked a chuckle. Instead, the situation turned tense before it was defused.
Who is to be blamed in this case? The person who posts the pictures or the person who commented? It poses a conundrum. If you ask me, I don't have the answer. But I am all in for posting pictures. Life is too short to see all the places. When someone posts a picture, two things are happening. The first is we are happy to know that they are alive and kicking. The second we get to experience these beautiful sights with our eyes and become part of their happiness.
You may remember the old adage. Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half sorrow. But in some cases, sharing doubles the pain. Take another instance. A good friend of mine went suddenly silent on the social media. As he was very active on social media before his disappearance, the absence was very conspicuous. When I reached him, the reason for the abstinence was due to a job search. The recruiters were checking the social media for more information on the prospective employees. As a result, he wanted to go off the radar.
Photo Courtesy: Chris Jone