- Rohini Rajeev
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Two Blue Ticks -And a culture of anxiety and over communication
Not going back too long in the past, had I asked someone to name three situations that would make them uneasy or cause apprehension, I suppose the answers would be either their concerns about the well-being of someone significant, or maybe a decision that can be life changing to take or to receive and possibly even the fear of the unknown; and all the three understandably so. But today, in this world of 'always connected disconnect' that we live in, it takes precious little to send someone to the panic room. Among all the ways in which digitization has negatively affected us, the creation of unnecessary and yet intense anxiety is one of the most damaging.
Social Media has provided us with several ways to be on a relentless pursuit of our friends and acquaintances virtually because of status messages that unwillingly show up and 'message- read' reports in the form of two blue ticks or pop profile shots or just plain information about the recipient having read our message. It does not however, yet, manage to tell us the circumstances around which the message was read, whether the reader was preoccupied at that time or if it was indeed the person to whom the message was directed to, who has in fact read the message. The response is taken out of context, purely from our own perspective and our pressing (read anxious and eager) need to be acknowledged and gratified almost instantly. Any delay is interpreted without hesitation as conscious avoidance, with an intent to hurt and as a show of the recipient's superiority ('Busyness' is after all a deliberate excuse and therefore unacceptable!) A general lack of patience in communication is overpowered by the debilitating power of over-thought and over-communication. The resulting anxiety is no surprise there!
Social media has become a medium of comparison and swank without simply remaining a powerful medium of communication that it is. People tend to experience not just anxiety over every day social situations which makes them over conscious and fearful of being judged on the basis of what's displayed on their social profile, they also tend to despair over how pale their life seems in comparison to their elite and affluent friends or probably just the socially smart ones who are very selective in their exhibition.
While increased Social Anxiety is an unfortunate fallout of virtual socialization, a significant increase in Generalized Anxiety experienced by even children as young as 13, because of popularity indicators like the number of followers and likes for one's posts; the increased thought of missing out on social events and gatherings attended by those they consider socially sought after, and the regrettable need to feel important and expect whistle- stop response time for every method of communication irrespective of its significance, is on the rise. It's alarming to see children unable to move out their stage of seeking instant gratification (psychological ideal being Age 5) and adults regressing back to it!
We don't need more reasons for alarm. We have enough on our plates already with global warming, growing religious intolerance and food security issues. With gender parity and fear of large scale wars, not to forget the growing global economic crisis, there are sufficient legitimate reasons for increased anxiety. Let's learn to spread happiness and focus on the positives instead, uplift and enable, rather than become despondent and indulge in social media instigated and self-induced trepidation.
We are not what another's acknowledgement makes us, no matter who the person is. Only statistical tests need to be validated, not people. Stop and breathe. What will be will be... irrespective of whether we worry or not. And remember that sometimes no news is good news.
-Rohini Kesavan Rajeev
Founder, The Able Mind