To Be or Not To Be

A little kingdom I possess,
Where thoughts and feelings dwell;
And very hard the task I find
Of governing it well.
-- Louisa May Alcott.
...........hmmm....that more or less describes my situation !!

~A Wise Man Said~

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
-- Aristotle

Sunday, September 11, 2011
When I discovered blogging almost 10 years ago, it was new territory. There was no term called Social Media then, that I recall. As someone who loves to ponder on things and discuss them with like-minded people, I loved the idea of having a platform to do just that—to scribble away, to think aloud, to share my thoughts, to connect with whoever came along and could relate with what I had to say, to argue and debate, to meet minds all over the world… seemed like an exciting proposition!

I didn’t know where this would all lead to… but my blog grew to be a happy place for me by each passing day and the only thing I knew was, till the blog or I existed, it would be a part of my journey, recording my thoughts and impressions and even emotions, however subtly, as we went along… that has happily been true. My blog has been that one constant thing in my life among many inconstancies, and what is more, it has been a listening board when I just wanted to vent out to no one in particular. I guess it makes sense that I stopped writing a diary after my blog came in…

Being an intrinsically private person, it has been challenging at times to say what’s on my mind, without compromising on certain codes of behaviour that are important to me. I strongly believe in maintaining a certain dignity, whether it’s online or offline, and to me dignity encompasses being sensitive about what is public and what is personal, and not letting the two boundaries overlap.

Today, many years later, there is a whole new world called Social Media, and blogs are just a small part of this giant phenomenon. New platforms, tools, technologies all help you ‘connect’ with people, in one way or the other, and nobody’s life is now untouched by it. Everyone has a ‘voice’ now and everyone is exerting that voice. I wonder if it hasn’t become like the proverbial ‘bandar ke haath mein ustara’. Even a good thing can become dangerous in the hands of a person who doesn’t know how to use it. And the question that has been increasingly niggling me is, are we using these tools sensibly?

I tend to feel that people are giving free reign to their insecurities, their need for self-validation, their desire for attention in these spaces...there also appears to be an obsession to share every minute tidbit of one’s life, whether what one had for breakfast is of even the littlest interest to anyone else, doesn’t seem to be a cause for pause. We seem to be bombarded with or force-fed the most inane and banal of details of everybody’s lives everywhere we look around us, and the inconsequential seems to be taking over our very existence! We presumably are more ‘connected’ with everybody else now, but somehow there is a lot of emptiness… in the need to show how happy, lucky, friendly, wealthy, pretty etc we are, I somehow notice a lot of shallowness…

Sometimes it is difficult to say whether it is these tools that are reshaping our thoughts and behaviour and making us more vain and obsessed with ourselves, or whether these tools are just projecting the new reality, the inherent lack of depth and meaning in our society. I don’t know. I think it’s not about the medium or the tool, but about how we use it and what we do with it…the tool is just a mirror, and it can only be true to the face that looks into it. It can’t make ugly look pretty.

I feel Social Media has definitely brought tremendous positives into our lives; I needn’t look any further than my own blog. I also feel that while Social Media has increased the amount of noises and voices out there, at least, it’s made us the people a force to reckon with, for the same reason. It has brought the world closer and made us a global community in the true sense.

While being cynical is my nature, I don’t mind exploring the possibilities in things. In one of these moods, I recently landed on the micro-blogging site ‘Twitter’, and got myself a handle. And I have to admit it brought back some of the excitement I felt when I first created my blog. Maybe not so surprising because it shares many similarities with the blogging medium—you post blogs of 140 characters or less on anything that is of interest to you and people may choose to connect with you or ‘follow’ you as they say in Twitter terminology, if they want to continue listening to what you have to say. The good thing is you can choose to follow people who share your areas of interest, and be a part of only those conversations that add value either to your work or to yourself.

Social Media are here to stay and I would say that’s a good thing. Now, whether we use it to provoke terror (as in the recent UK riots) or to promote healthy dialoguing, is up to us… and would reflect where we are headed as a world…