Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Anti-Social Media

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My family is gearing up for my brother's wedding in early December. So you can imagine the chaos that accompanies the phenomenon called the Big Fat Indian Wedding. Invitations, what to wear, arrangements for the reception, caterers, decorators, travel bookings, shopping for a zillion things, and the list goes on and on and on. (Sometimes I wonder who really enjoys these weddings - the people getting married or the ones making a fortune out of it? The latter, I'm sure.)

While all this was going on, my parents (who are doing the 'inviting') happened to drop in at a very close relative's home only to find it locked. Even the windows were covered completely and the neighbours didn't know anything. They dropped the invite at the door and left. Soon after, they called the relative to check if they had received the card. No response. The cellular phone company's recorded message said 'switched off' or 'unavailable'. Strange. Then the parents took off for our native land, Mangalore, for a week. On return, they called the absconding relative once again. This time, he answered.

He denied being out of town or unreachable. Flatly denied. My folks were a tad surprised but dismissed it.

Facebook, a modern-day cross we bear?
Photo clicked at Kala Ghoda Festival 2010
So... The other night, we were home talking about various things under the sun and this little story came up. My brother blurted out that the said uncle's daughter (in Dubai) very recently celebrated her daughter's fourth - or was it third? - birthday. We saw the album update on the Facebook feed but neither my brother nor I had really gone through the cousin's album (155 photos in all, and I had only seen the update when my brother was online on FB). My mum then suspiciously wondered if the uncle and his wife had visited Dubai for the grandchild's birthday. Feeling almost like a detective (not really!), I scanned the album and soon found that her suspicion was bang on! Not only were the cousin's parents in Dubai, but even the other daughter with her husband had gone along. Which is all fine with us. I mean, what can be nicer than spending quality time with your family, especially when it also involves celebrating your grandchild's birthday? So nice, no? 

But what really irked my parents is the blatant lying. The uncle just said they were very much in town when it was obvious they weren't. It's not that we were probing for gossip or felt jealous of their trip. You don't want to tell the world where you're off to? Fine. But once you're back, and when you know it's not such a secret, why lie to someone's face?

More significantly, this little incident made me wonder... My parents or the uncle in question are not active in the online space. But even then social platforms like Facebook pervade and make a difference to their lives. While I have always, personally, taken to such platforms openly, I shudder to think how negatively these channels might affect us in life, our relationships and our interactions with family and friends. Social media continues to grow. Every day, newer concepts and cooler initiatives are launched. Facebook, Twitter, Orkut (!), YouTube are not the only familiar names; Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr and many more have already joined the bandwagon. Can you remain untouched?

The one (obvious) lesson from this? Be careful what you upload on any of these channels. Or else something may come back to bite you in the ass. :)

On that note, thank you for reading. Goodbye, October.


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