RSS

Tag Archives: internet

Of masks, lies and social networking

Read it on my TOI blog : Freeze Frame :

I was at my listening post at one of social networking sites a few weeks back and listened in on a conversation between two editors, a firebrand veteran and a feisty firebrand-in-the-making, bantering on how people lie on the social networking sites more than they do in real life. What had started their banter was a survey that had been published in a leading Indian newspaper the same day, saying much the same. The insights were interesting and I listened on till the conversation took its usual turn towards politics and I tuned out. But the thought still lingered on in the mind.

Somewhere I was not ready to agree that we all lie freely  on the social media. Not all of us are liars here. Some of us are, perhaps. Not all of us. Oh yes, but most of us love to exaggerate. And some do take exaggeration a little too seriously and take it to an extreme. But I was sure that majority didn’t lie on Facebook or Twitter. What most of us try to do here is try and create the image of a person who we want or ever wanted to be, not who we really are. Does that amount to lying? I’m not justifying the need for exaggerating or for that matter lying here. All I am saying is that the social media gives us a second chance, to become or try to become who we want to be.

I know for a fact that I don’t want to sound like myself from seven years ago, when I was setting up home in a desert city in the Middle East. I was stuck in a house with a book case full of books (which I am now revisiting again), a state of the art cooking range where I was learning, unlearning and relearning culinary skills, a television with  four ‘Arabic’ speaking channels, a DVD player but no DVDs and where I spent my leisure hours learning Arabic and baking all kinds of upside-down cakes. I know for sure that I wouldn’t want to put up pictures of mine from my salad days either, with flowing unruly tresses, not out of choice, but because I was not sure whether the woman at the neighbourhood’s ‘apology’ of a parlour could even hold a pair of scissors! Anyway, since this post is not about my days in the desert city, I promise to share more in another post, now on to the social media.

Once the social media reached out to me with open arms, albeit a few years later and I started to take baby steps, balance in my life was restored. I do have a few Facebook albums chronicling the ‘good times’ we have had there, but I’m sure that is not the ‘complete’ picture of my life in reality. I have chosen 30 odd pictures from among 300 pictures, those that look perfect, those that have the best profiles of me in beautiful locales and of course those that tell the world how ‘happy’ I am. But that is not the complete picture in real life. Why? Because my life is much more than those picture perfect albums. Because I do not carry all the ‘Me’s with me into my social networking sites I frequent. I leave them hanging around by my table, by the book case, with my paint brushes, planning home work for my daughter while I tweet, update my status, post smart looking comments, put up picture perfect Facebook albums to the envy of others.

I am sure I wouldn’t want to open up the ‘not-so-picture-perfect’ past of mine as an open book on Facebook. Neither would I like to upload pictures of my bored or tired self for others to needlessly scrutinize and comment on. I am quite certain that had I gotten on to Facebook at such a point in time in the past, probably I would have hidden my face behind a mask, too … a profile picture which is not mine. Instead of my face you would have found an apple, a post-it, a painting, a door frame, a cartoon character, super hero,  a popular superstar or even a rocker (oh yes, people do get creative when it comes to choosing the right mask). Many people do that, trust me and I am sure that each one of them would have a  perfectly viable reason in their minds for this kind of behaviour, best known only to them. Hiding their real face from the world so that they can carry on tweeting, updating or whatever else they do, they do boldly – one step removed from the public eye. (Here I’ll let myself presume more than I usually do). Some, I suppose, hide their faces behind masks on the social media because in real life they are wonderfully ordinary people, perhaps slightly overweight, definitely beyond their first flush of youth and hell-bent on trying to add glamour and a touch of excitement to their otherwise nondescript lives. Or perhaps they need a mask to put their bold foot forward and talk in a language that scandalizes the living day lights out of others around them, which they believe buys them the everlasting acceptance of their peer group. Significant others hide their faces so that they remain conspicuous to the world or so they think. And last but not the lest category comprises of those like the Fake IPL player who keep themselves ‘famously’ conspicuous to grab eye-balls and play on the old vice called Curiosity.

Sad faces http://bit.ly/c1LkYw

I was happy in my social networks. I was ready to live happily ever after with my faulty logic. I was sure it was not such a scary place, not everybody out there had an axe to grind and most of them were not vicious people, till I met another kind. Masked ‘impersonators’ who go about shamelessly stealing and using other people’s identities in an attempt to grow their own fan following. Those who are curious can read about my encounter with a masked liar on my other blog,  a first person account of what happened to me in cyberspace and what could very easily happen to you. Willy nilly, I have learnt my lesson. The only place where I can truly afford to wear my rose-tinted glasses and maintain ‘life is good’, is in person. For the rest of the social media, this ‘social animal’ has chosen to take a walk down Narcissus lane and get an account with the handle @TheRealSoma_G.

Advertisements
 
5 Comments

Posted by on November 19, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Confessions of a wired mind…

The strolley standing in the dim foyer was packed and ready for the next 4 days. The Nokia sat on the centre table with its new Matrix sim-card, the sticky ‘post it’ with a note of the flight details and the hotel numbers hung on the refrigerator door. The Bee’s Blackberry came alive with the chauffeur details of his cab. And soon after a peck on the cheek and a bear hug later the Bee disappeared into the mi-conic lift, on his way down to the waiting car.

I made the usual big mug of coffee and made my way to the lounge chair. The little red book awaited me on the corner table,  a book where I scribbled down chores that needed my attention in my leisure. It held a list of books to catch up on, a list of  ‘must watch DVDs’ and all that. I ran through the list absent mindedly, while my mind was busy putting together another list. There were some significant others that had started to distract me of late, somethings that I thought kept me in touch with the time, in touch with myself.

There in my camera’s memory chip were pictures from several social dos and images of our weekend frolics that needed to be uploaded, tagged and posted on Facebook and Flickr.  The mobile camera went where the camera didn’t and captured on the spur of the moment slices of life  – they made for great candid camera moments to be shared on Facebook. Sassy snippets waited in my Twitter ‘favourites’ inbox to be ‘tweeted’ and to become status updates on Facebook. My Linked-in contact list required a spring cleaning, as did those on Facebook and Twitter. That reminded me of the interesting links I needed to link on my Facebook and Twitter profiles.  And then there were those who shied away from social networks, and I liked to keep in touch with them on the mail. So a number of birthday greetings, travel plans and general keep in touch ‘feel good’ forwards waited for my attention in my mailbox. Of course, I almost forgot about the post that waited to be published on my blog’s dashboard. Silly me! And my R had handed me a list of tracks to be downloaded on to the iPod. I was getting forgetful, I chuckled to myself.

Of late, I  had secretly come to love the ‘social networking Diva’ tag a friend of mine generously bestowed on me and I wanted to make good use of the following days to retain the position, I told myself! My reflection on the mirror didn’t interest me anymore as much as my profile picture.

Thus elated by my current disposition, I made my way to the  den, where my sojourn awaited me. The room, being at the back of the house had a tranquil air. The palm by the window swayed in the gentle breeze. The armchair sat merrily with the floor cushion at its feet. The books lined the bookshelf in neat rows. Everything was in order, just the way I liked it. The table – wait! Was I dreaming? There was something amiss!

There was a void, a numbness was gripping me, my vision was blurring. But even in that disoriented state, through the blur all I saw was a gaping, empty spot. The space between the printer and the scanner, where the laptop usually sat snug as a bug on a rug, was empty! Everything else was in order – upto the umbilical chord of the broadband modem, lying listlessly, detached from the computer.

A quick rewind to yesterday,  to a brief conversation over dinner between the Bee and me.  I painfully recollected a mention of a presentation the Bee was to make to an august company at an international seminar on the necessity of listening posts in the current recession hit corporate world. It brought me back to real time and I remembered blowing a kiss at the Toshiba, cushy in it’s leather bag, slung over the Bee’s shoulder as he disappeared into the mi-conic lift.

 

Tags: , , , ,