It is official now, though it has been obvious for many years — I am now a social outcast, having lost or closed my last social media account. For many a decade, I was behind in the fast-moving world of technology-enabled interactions between people. Starting from the days of rotary phones (now found only in museums), I was barely able to manage to dial the correct number and have a telephonic conversation. When the world exploded with cellular phones, I was smug enough to believe that ‘it wont happen to me’ and refused to become wire-less. The clunky flip phones quickly gave way to smart-phones and voice was replaced by text, and then text by hieroglyphics. I was busy trying to learn to send messages via email and missed the whole gamut of
technological advances in personal and social communication. Mercifully, knowledge of email was enough to hold on to my job.
I began to notice that people – family, friends and even my bankers – were communicating less and less with me because I could not send or receive text messages. I became determined to speed myself up and not be left behind to perish with the early generations of the information age. Since no one close to me had the time or the inclination to educate me, I turned to the underground world of self-proclaimed pundits dishing out free lessons on YouTube. I went through a bewildering array of crash courses on some Chat, some Square, circle, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and LinkedIn to boot. Armed with my newfound skills, I created accounts for myself on all the social media platforms. With gentle encouragement and patient guidance from teenagers in my family, I managed to get invited to multiple family and social circles. I was soon getting showered with messages, photos, video clips, prohibited food items, philosophical quotes and Einstein-level research studies on my mobile device. I foolishly tried to respond to incoming messages without realizing that no one had time to read or respond to social media postings.
One of the youngsters, seeing me struggle with composing sentences with my poor typing skills, took pity on me and said, “if you do really want to respond, just click the ‘like’ button or hit the ‘follow’ button as an expression of appreciation; if you still have the urge to say something more tangible, just use the emoji’s available”. I was taken aback and left pondering over how things had come a full circle, with us going back to communicating with signs and symbols! It was shortly thereafter that I fully realized that I did not belong in the social media world and accepted that I had to live my life on the outside, perhaps as a recluse.