Passionate about matters that touches the common man and that brings out the best and worst out of him.
Engrossed and enmeshed in electronic networking
Corona pandemic has created a shift in the society. It is not confined to any region of the world as other plagues were. Moreover, there has not been so many people on the face of the planet ever before. The matter is made worst as there is no credible vaccine to combat the virus in spite of the advances in modern medicine. The government is now left with crude option of keeping people inside by fear of state violence.
Man, the social animal
The innate nature of man is to form social bonds. This bonding encompasses the true nature of commitment to partnerships for equitable stakeholder in social resources, with a resolve to assist each other in distress and in danger. With people compelled to stay put at home; it has become much difficult to sustain the social bonding in a traditional way.
Trying to save the populace from infection by pushing them into addiction
There is no end to vicious circle of tragedy; the human race has got itself into. Imposition of confinement to save the people from the virus, has pushed them to another epidemic of social media addiction.
Electronic alternative to physical bonding
Social media usage sky rocketed in the months of the pandemic. In many well networked, populated countries of the world,. It is just another way of expressing the innate urge to create social bonding that has been badly disrupted due to the governments’ confinement order.
A prisoner of the system
In the personal space, there is no walking the dog, no visit to the mall, no dining out, no late night partying, no inviting friends for a drink on the Saturday evening. Life has become a prison suddenly with so much ruthlessness.
Baby steps into social media, a giant leap into addiction
With the cell phones becoming more affordable, nearly 80% of the social media users use cell phones more than their laptops. Facebook, Twitter, Whatspp, Netflix recorded a surprising rise in usage time of about 75%. People joyfully meet friends and relations on the social media sitting at home, order food and other products by app. Only essential services and delivery personnel have been allowed to go out and do their work.
The fear of pandemic spread in the corporate and the bosses have asked their subordinates to work from home to help each other from falling sick. Skype and Zoom have taken over the role of the conference rooms. Only essential staffers in the offices and factories are allowed in. This means no personal interaction, no casual talk in canteens, no friendly or unfriendly gesturing no human touch to corporate life.
Strong governmental support for electronic engagement
The governments have lauded this kind of behavior. It is for those in the administration it is “being in touch without getting close”. The social media proponents have called for new social engagement as a great social breakthrough. They are found to be saying that the social media interactions are as good as the real life interactions and foster closer ties. As internet breaks barriers, so do friendship and exchange of ideas. It supports free speech and therefore promotes democracy.
Sordid consequences of alternative form of bonding
The reality is contrary to all that was said in support of the social media, Many sociologists have called this quite a disturbing trend. The bonding fostered on the social media are usually superfluous, therefore not strong but extremely fragile and ephemeral as there is no face to face interaction.
The superfluous bonding has no deep rooted commitment as there was in the traditional one. Seeing pictures of friends in party mode make the other feel left out and isolated. Well photo shopped snaps of the close ones give one the feeling that others have a happy life leading to insecurity.
There is no end to the misery apart from the giving the sense of isolation and insecurity. This insecurity is more difficult to overcome than the former. It pulls the media user back to the pages of social media to check what is going on with the others. This is called the “ fear of missing out” or FOMO syndrome.
OTTs, the invisible couch glue
Even when the confinement was partially revoked, people were quite reluctant to dine out or go shopping at the nearest mall. Netflix and other OTTs streamed the latest web series, have tied the people to their couches with invisible glue
Media and Apps: a complete entrapment
When interviewed, the patrons and shoppers feared the spread of disease and hence they ordered food and products online. This is not a credible explanation as people confined to small apartments for 9 months or so would be reluctant to step out to kill the boredom. It is the same kind of thought that has been ingrained into the minds the e-commerce is safe, good, convenient and trustworthy. As more and more people shop online and order food online, there will be no scope for face to face engagement.
Will the governments accept the malaise?
Before we deal with the addiction, it has to be accepted and information spread by the government that this is indeed an addiction, that is as bad as any other addiction. It has the potential to destroy lives and tear apart the social fabric.
Conspiracy of the big techs
The political leadership is confused on the ongoing pandemic and sticks to the old way of keeping the people isolated. The big tech companies on the other hand get to use the governments’ resolve to isolate people as a great opportunity to promote their platforms for more user base. More users mean more advertisement revenue and sales revenue. This will further lead to more and more job losses in various sectors, more economic exclusion and more dependence on social media to alleviate the pain.
A faint ray of hope, if the government acts against big techs
A strong leadership that harbors empathy for the common man who pays taxes rather than for the big business lobbies that donate generously to the party coffers, is the need of the hour. Taxing the big tech with higher rates thus making the platforms usage expensive will motivate the people to step out of the homes to restaurants, shopping mall, cinemas. This will further encourage meeting people in the street, meeting friends and relations, and restoration of the traditional form of social bonding with all the commitment and warmth.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2021 JAYANTA DAS