The dictionary defines social networking as the grouping of individuals into specific groups like rural communities or neighbourhood subdivisions. Try telling someone today this definition of social networking and there would be bewildered reactions like “Really? I thought it was possible only online.” Well they are not to be blamed; the concept was passed on to them only in the online mode.
If anyone, then the ease of access to the internet and lightning fast speeds at which a message can be communicated from one corner of the globe to the other is responsible for limiting the scope of networking to the virtual world.
Picture this, where Rahul the moment he wakes up announces to the whole world the time at which he got up and how he is running late to work. But the same person does not find time to catch up with his people at home because of his “hectic” schedule. Far from being more convivial with technology on one’s side, we are increasingly becoming non communicating beings. One can go on at length about the latest happenings in one’s life when it comes to posting it on the web. You can consider yourself fortunate if you get more than 2 words about one’s disposition in the “real world”.
Ask me to give an online update at the rate of one per 10 minutes and I would give you 20. Ask the same me to strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to me and I would be caught dumbfounded.
Social networking on google would give you results running into millions in number, with services varying from dating to professional help to educational advise to just finding pals. It is actually enlightening to find a gamut of sites with each one claiming to be more popular than the other. And the regional affiliates are not far behind the race with a different set of platforms for every territory. An exhaustive list of such sites ensures that it keeps one occupied for hours together in a day without looking for alternative avenues to socialise.
People have started living only for the world to know what they are up to. It is actually amusing to see how one does not get tired of clicking oneself to glory to get that shot to be put on display. It is a display of the new skirt or the new pair of shoes or the funky piece of jewellery that you adorn for your list of friends to admire. It is actually scary to note that every move is guided by the motive to put up pictures or quotes for the world to like and comment on. In an endeavour to picture perfect the moment of savouring the dripping ‘gola’, I am not sure how many of them actually remember to enjoy the gola.
Where is it all heading?
Has social networking only reduced to posting an update on the number of ‘sneezes’ by someone and his friends either ‘liking’ the thought on one’s mind or going ahead and commenting. Then there are some who take it to the next level by sharing it with their so called online friends.
I am afraid all of this is not remotely close to the idea behind coining the term. We are losing out the essence of being social in being so uncommunicative and unresponsive to our surroundings.
What discriminated us from the other species of the planet was our intellect and our ability to socialise and hence the name social being. We are now becoming a race of asocial species so aloof to the existence of any other mortal.
We are all ready to wish a speedy recovery to some bloke in some part of the world who lets the world know about the 2 degree increase in his body temperature. At the same time, it becomes a task for us to find out the well being of people in the next cubicle or people at home. We are getting so mired by the virtual world that facing the factual world is becoming mission impossible.
It is no wonder that the corporates have begun taking charge of the alarming numbers of incompetent communicators. Industries today are being increasingly driven by soft skills and the lack of it is being looked at as a trade barrier. Soft skills training program was unheard of at the time of our fathers and the forefathers, thanks to our communication media today- we frantically need it now.
Where do we draw a line to being candid about the new stuff bought or the state of one’s mind and yet be so brusque about the real affairs?
It is high time we took a grip over the situation and put a restraint over the blatant exhibition of nothingness. I am not propagating a total withdrawal from the advances in technology and living a life of hermit. I ask for nothing but moderation to the current practise and understanding the nuances of actual networking. I do not totally undermine the contribution of social networking sites in finding long lost friends, in getting messages to every nook and corner of the world in seconds.
Communication being the standalone prerequisite for networking, it is imperative for us to start talking, expressing ideas, listening, empathising, not in the world of the ‘clouds’ but right here on this terra firma.