Welcome to the age of social media and herd mentality
Random postings and comments on social media are a reflection of how people today act impulsively, without giving a thought to others whose sensibilities they might be offendingUpdated: Jun 27, 2020 21:49 IST
It was the birthday of a dear friend of mine a few days ago. Sadly, she had lost her battle with cancer three years ago. However, on that particular day, Facebook popped up a reminder.
As thoughts flew to her and her cheerful smile, I browsed Facebook and saw that 303 people had posted on her timeline. When I clicked on the newsfeed and started reading the messages I found that barring two or three that said: ‘Missing you dear on your birthday’ or ‘May God grant you a better life,’ in remembrance, the others had simply sent birthday wishes.
The hollowness and the falsity of it all hit me like a brick. I realised that 99% of her ‘Facebook friends’ did not even know that she was no longer in this world. What made this even more surprising was that my friend’s husband had replaced her earlier profile picture with a copy of her obituary. And most people had not noticed!
This made me think that our friends on social media are perhaps just in name. True friends are those that care and share our joys and sorrows.
Another incident got me thinking. Yesterday morning, one of my WhatsApp groups showed 49 messages. On opening it I saw that most of them were birthday wishes for a friend.
On a hunch, I checked the participant list of the group and my sixth sense proved right. The birthday girl of the day was not a member of the group. I posed an innocuous query, saying: “Is she even a member of this group?” After a pregnant pause, the group admin posted a sheepish emoji saying, “No, she is not! Sorry!”
I really wonder why we just do what everyone is doing without applying our minds to it, just because a notification or a message prompts us to do so. Would it not be prudent to pause and think before you act?
This reminds me of a little anecdote of a man seeing a young boy gazing at the sky. So he also stood near him and did the same thing. Another and yet another followed suit. Eventually, there were about 20-odd people looking up. When the young boy looked around him and saw the group, he asked the first man, “What are you looking at?” The reply was, “Oh nothing! You were looking up, so I thought it would be something interesting and did the same.” The second man and the third and so on... All lowered their heads and fumbled and mumbled as they were humbled by their own foolishness. The little boy said, “Oh! I wasn’t looking at anything. I had a stiff neck. Was just trying to ease it!”
(The writer is a Chandigarh-based freelance contributor)