Monday, November 23, 2015

Is there a day when you have completely abandoned your electronic gadgets and explored the world around you? Have you ever spent quality time with people from the real world?

Face-to-face communication with your parents, friends or whoever dear to you is what is being discussed. Unfortunately, the present generation is completely oblivious of actuality due to their constant attachment to virtual reality. Such vis-a-vis communication has been slowly dying due to the immense usage of mainstream social networking platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram, SnapChat etc.

“Social media, for instance, gives us a skewed representation of the world around us. Never before has a growing up generation been so incessantly bombarded with the finely-picked details of other’s lives, nor indeed, with so much information”, says Siddharth Avadhanam, a first year student, who is currently pursuing his Masters degree at Michigan State University, USA.

Some people avoid friendships in real life and rather, resort to making friends online. They drop the opportunity of hanging out with friends or family, thinking that they will find more fun things to do online. Most people make it a necessity to visit social media sites almost every hour. It is like their daily newspaper.

‘One of the negative effects of social media or network is it leads to addiction. Spending countless hours on the social sites can divert the focus and attention from a particular task. It lowers the motivational level of the people, especially of the teenagers and students’, says Imtiaz Ali, author of a technology website named Techbread.

According to a BBC news report in 2013, it has been stated that social networking brings people together across the Internet. In a larger sense it may create social isolation. When people spend increasing amounts of time on social networks, they experience minimal face-to-face interaction.

Scientists have researched extensively about social isolation and have examined that it can lead to a number of mental, psychological, emotional and physical problems including depression, anxiety, somatic complaints and many others. In fact, a 2014 study at the Chicago School of Medicine showed that social isolation has deteriorated the brain hormones, which is likely the reason why socially isolated people experience dreadful levels of stress, aggression, anxiety and other mental issues.

 ‘Social media has the potential to misrepresent the facts and genuinity of the person. To cite an example, if you text someone ‘how are you?’ the reply most of the times would be ‘I am fine’. But a real communication which consists of emotion, physical presence and behavioural analysing ability can still make out whether the person is fine or not irrespective of him/ her saying I am fine by the tone of his/ her voice or even by looking in the eyes. People not only hear what you are saying, they perceive the greater meaning of your tone, voice inflection, emotion and body language” says Kruthika Shetty, an Assistant Manager at Corporate Communications in Mumbai, India.
In a research paper conducted by Susan Greenfield, a professor of synaptic pharmacology at Oxford University UK, she has compared online chats to buying pre packaged meat at a store, "Perhaps future generations will recoil with similar horror at the messiness, unpredictability and immediate personal involvement of a three-dimensional, real-time interaction."

There were times when we engaged in heart-to-heart conversations with our parents. Currently, it is rare to find the new generation interacting with their parents as they are glued to their phones or engrossed in the internet sphere. There is complete disunion between the parents and children.

 “Texting, Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail alienate us from our families more than we actually think it does. When my family is spending family time together and watching a movie, in reality my brother and I are on our phones rather than actually watching the movie with our parents’, says Marilyn Price Mitchell, a developmental psychologist, researcher and a co-founder at National ParentNet Association.

“We lie about ourselves and develop something we are not. We post pictures of us looking perfect and share the good news. We never post pictures of ourselves when our dog dies, when someone we love leaves, and when we lose a job. We never share the bad news that always clouds our lives. We all develop this perfect image of ourselves and some of us actually try to rely on this imaginative thought we have of ourselves instead of staying true to who we are.” adds Mitchell.

Yoko Ono, wife of the late The Beatles singer/guitarist /songwriter and visionary, John Lennon had rightly said,

‘Every moment in our lives is a miracle. We should enjoy instead of ignoring’.

By Natasha Sreeranj