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Social media's graciousness effect

india Updated: Nov 13, 2011 21:48 IST
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I have observed this over the years and have now wrapped the entire observation in a theory: I believe that social media has awakened a heightened sense of graciousness amongst all of us who live and breathe there.

It is also my view that after the "delete" button, the one button that has revolutionised this graciousness is the "share" button. Followed, not closely but comfortably, by the "like" button.

The share button is not about transmission. It is about sharing, which is a far more psychological phenomenon rather than a mere viral vehicle. We are largely a selfish bunch of sods who like to keep things between us or at best within our cultural and social coteries. "This is strictly between us" overtook "I love you" as the 21st century's most widely used phrase (okay, that too is my theory).

The share button almost stripped us of our selfishness and innate desire to hoard knowledge or anything. Suddenly, there is a certain 'nicety nakedness' that we are a feeling splendid about.

I run a Facebook community through which I send out a tip on a great DVD or CD or book or restaurant or a secret getaway. This is shared with members. I have often been asked why I share critical information that mostly people would be unwilling to tell others about. My response has always been that sharing is a fine habit.

Facebook abounds with communities that are constantly sharing information of food, movies, books and other such things. There is a certain democratisation of dissemination that all of this breeds. I find it utterly charming and gracious.

The trend continues on Twitter. Friday Follow (#FF) is such a wonderful example of that very graciousness, where you acknowledge people whose tweets you would recommend to your followers. Acknowledgement of another person's acumen. Doling out credit to the creditable. These are not the virtues of the real world, but interestingly, have become the values of the virtual world.

Every morning, my tweet feed is pregnant with appeals that have been retweeted. People have found blood for an ailing friend. Someone has got a lift to work on a rainy day in Mumbai. There is a goodness in us that social media has excavated with aplomb.

Of course many may argue that social media also breeds a lot of activism, rants, barbs. That is fine by me. I think it is fantastic to operate in a borderless world. Comments without corridors reflect the voice of a society.

Enough has been said on how free comment and an avalanche of activism has politically altered the destinies of countries. I am not going there.

For me, it is the behaviour that is trending. Are we well mannered because we are being minded? Maybe. That's a theory. But on a larger scale I think there is a certain camaraderie that is coming through. Friendships that have been formed on the basis of like-mindedness, not demographics.

There's a new set that's forming. It's a mindset. A mannered mindset.

On that score, I am so looking forward to having a meal with my friend @sushobhan. Someone who I have not spoken to or met in my life, but one who I speak with and meet every morning of my life on Twitter.

The writer is CEO, Equus Red Cell