DIGITAL HANG UPS
Your friends organize a shindig and you can't go…. You check Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp...every 30 seconds… stare at phone… to ring. Beep-beep….. constantly text friends to see what they’re doing…. you feel edgy, slightly annoying, and mostly crazy…take minute-by-minute texting like pain-relief…..your thumbs are about to fall-off but so what…. you’re there, without actually being there. Ctrl F5… Quick, Refresh. Where’re they? What’re they doing? What’re they tweeting? Why’s this page taking so long to load? What’s their status? Have they uploaded photos; Videos? Why didn’t I just go? Why am I still here? Why, why? Oh, no!
Guys that walk on the road with earphones…. listening to music, talking or simply texting…. live in their shells (cocoons)…. ‘IPod oblivion’…. and have attention mostly diverted to cause hearing deficit. As if not giving damn to the countless close calls they’ve every day, the pedestrians won’t quite often be able to comprehend warning signals like honking or someone simply crying out. Millennials (NetGeners) are prompted by digital tsunami and Internet dynamics to be flexible, changing in fashion and style consciousness. Rather than being passive recipients of mass consumer culture, NetGen, while time- searching, reading, scrutinizing, authenticating, collaborating, organizing MP3 files and the like, cannot imagine life where citizens didn’t have the tools to constantly think critically, exchange views, challenge, authenticate, verify or debunk. A generation of scrutinizers, more skeptical of authority, these Millennials sift through information at the speed of light by themselves or with their network of peers. The netizens believe in open sourcing and democratizing.
Digital natives experience Google/ iPhones and inventions as part of their birth right to instant messaging and the iPads/iPhones. Having been nourished on instant messaging, chat groups, play lists, peer-to-peer file sharing, and online multiplayer video games– in much the same way as they swap songs and videos over the internet---seems perfectly normal for this digital workforce of tomorrow. The speed and immediacy are another trait of the NetGeners…. grown up multitasking. Emotionally open on the Net, innovative and investigative, independent and confident, and preoccupied with maturity they’re open to individuals who use the Internet primarily as a social technology. They often enjoy the illusory power of being able to control the world inside the computer when playing online games and attracted by the ability of the Internet to offer companionship in the virtual world.
Imagine, the fear-of-missing- out (FOMO) that clouds on to our Millennials (and digital savvies of other generations) when they feel starved of the daily dose of social networking. The fingertip-generation would spend better part of the day checking 'statuses', 'likes' comments and pictures uploaded on social networking sites; and a day without gadgets, that connect people 24x7, almost drives them insane…..trivial or earth-shattering, petty or important. People feel frustrated, even inadequate…… to know what everyone is up to all the time, be it friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, or even a total stranger. The fear of missing-out is so severe that people would rather undertake a potentially painful activity, like reading ‘War and Peace’ at one go, get a root-canal, even spend a night in jail before even thinking of giving up their social networking profiles!
Teens sleep with mobile phones near their pillows and send thousands of text messages every day even before they get out of bed. It's next to impossible to resist checking Facebook, Twitter, BBM or WhatsApp every next minute…..to know exactly what friends are doing at what time, where, and with whom. It may partly be curiosity, considering that people have a voracious appetite for gossip or general inquisitiveness about other people's lives. Most of us cannot control the urge to text or call while driving and interrupt one call to take another without knowing who's on the line. There’re nights when people are unable to sleep due to insecurity. They wake up in the wee hours of morning to check whether they’ve received any text message or missed an important call….so addicted to these social networking mediums that people can't stay by themselves anymore.
The flurry of possibilities set off a rush of restlessness and indecision, the blend of anxiety, inadequacy and irritation that can flare up while skimming social media like Facebook, Twitter etc. The upside is immeasurable. Viewing postings from friends scattered around the country often makes one feel more connected to them, not less. People are bombarded with so much information that the anxiety of missing out on something can make them paranoid. We want to be the centre of attraction and be noticed. Symptoms…. the inability to put away one's mobile phone, excessive texting, tweeting even from the toilet and to unknowingly ignore the person sitting right in front of us.
Something that’s going on without you, is the fake personas, we promote on websites like Facebook…..; ‘fake’ because we often present only the best side of our lives on social networking sites…..because instead of us being completely real, many of us censor what we post to our social media profile. People on Facebook are often simply their idealized selves — with a bit of misery thrown in from time to time to “keep it real.” They plunge into blatant talk… the 'flaming'…. in which adults may go for childishly offensive/outlandish comments online. In a live, face-to-face conversation, we loop, getting an ongoing flow of feedback, mainly from the person's facial expressions and tone of voice which instantly tells us we're on track and off.
Digital culture is rewiring our brains. We increasingly browse rather than read. The feeling of FOMO has been around since the first caveman wondered if perhaps he should be out hunting dinner instead of siring an heir. At its root, the phenomenon is a healthy response to variety and choice. But with today's nearly infinite options, it has morphed into something far more complex. With the rise of social media and the developments in mobile devices’ technology, “Variety-Seeking Behavior” is becoming the rule, rather than the exception. We already filter companionship through machines; the next stage is to accept machines as companions. A robotic future awaits us until we consciously make an effort to use gadgets as tools to communicate our feelings to other people rather than getting unhealthily attached to the machine itself.