Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Towards a generation of e-Socials

Humans by default are social animals, not in the modern meaning but as a fact. This comes with their dependence on others to grow, to learn, to find food, to mate, to bear & raise offspring, and in short to LIVE. Initially I was a bit reluctant to proceed writing this article after a previous one on orthodoxy versus modernisation drew some criticism but continues to rank high in page views. If you think the same, then it accounts to another who's misread (with no pun) the whole thing. I try remaining moderate on most things I've come across in life and still am. The aforementioned article is no exception to that rule, where it stresses on the concept of 'balance'.

Continuing on this, I wish to highlight a new breed of human beings who could be termed 'e-Socials'. Simply this means people who socialise online and maintain a rather (in)different attitude offline - consider offline as the antonym of online. Personally, this inconsistent behaviour has put me off several times and I have all the reason to believe & assume that few more people find it rather irritating or confusing. My understanding has done away with the confusion part, since I now realise this to be a psychological trait, which in turn may characterise the behavioural aspect of an individual.

Interaction and implicit communication are imperative components of socialising. In today's web and networked life this has been achieved in other ways. Take for example a person in a chat room. They interact by typing, scream (by capitalising letters), show emotions via emoticons, and appear to be of a certain gender where in reality the person(s) is (are) not inclined to act as such. To elaborate, think of an individual in a grumpy state being able to express the complete opposite by typing in a smiling face (emoticon). The digital/virtual interface has facilitated the above merrily and successfully. I have met many people offline and have found them to be extremely different than they appear to be online. Some who appear very outgoing and cheerful online are surprisingly introverted and timid when encountered in normal day-to-day life. How could this happen? Is it a Multiple Personality Disorder or a distortion caused by living an extreme online life thereby ignoring to associate in REAL life? I'm not aware of any psychological analysis or study conducted on these lines but there couldn't be none either.

The arrival of social networking web sites has only assisted the above. Facebook, Google+, Hi5, Twitter, etc provide a bag of virtual substitutes for the online social being. People chat, share their thoughts, share photos, 'like' things, play games (as oppose to sports), find & make friends, entertain themselves, learn stuff and many many more by just sitting in front of a computer or by the use of a mobile gadget. Some even opt for the now rather conventional medium of email. What I think is, this is pretty alright if the whole world is connected and there's no need of offline interaction. But, (un)fortunately that's not the case. Hence, when there are two types the latest and uncommon become eccentric leading to confusion, irritation, agitation (in society) and you name it! So, we either wait for the transformation to happen imagining that this is a transitional phase and expect ourselves to be guzzled up by the tide. If there are no signs of it happening in the near future, then I say: GET A LIFE, and by that I mean a real one, not a forged one!