‘Like’ You Care

You ‘like’, you re-tweet, you move on. And virtual life goes on. Your online personality spots something, it catches your attention momentarily, and by the time you have done this – click ‘like’, scroll, scroll – you’ve forgotten all about it. You’ve moved on: From your friend’s new profile picture to Adele’s Grammy video, from a Tehelka article on Kashmir to the photogenic guy at some marathon that’s become ridiculously popular (God knows how). And that’s all the attention and investment you need to make. Precisely for that time it takes you to read a line, a phase, a word even, and then click, scroll, scroll.
There’s no use cribbing about it, is there? If you have a remote, you won’t get up to use the buttons on the TV panel; what you can BBM, why would you call someone to tell? Fair enough. Technology changes, and you adapt.
By the same logic, on Facebook and Twitter, you only pay attention momentarily. Click photo album, next, next, next...; Jist of articles, boring, boring, maybe, ooh interesting, damn needs permissions and stuff, sigh, never mind. Moving on…
If you’ve actually clicked a New Yorker article and read through the 5,000 words, congratulations, you’re an exception. And perhaps a bit old-school too. Slow would be the word, bereft of euphemism. There are already 50 new tweets and 30 new stories begging for your attention, waiting for you to click, just one click, before it floods your monitor with new information, erasing away what’s now history (10 minutes was sooo long ago!). More pictures, bits of information, nuggets of personal or recycled wisdom, celebrity slapping videos, relationship status updates: It’s complicated, alright. There is so, so, so much going on, that to adapt means to scan through each thing for a few seconds only.
And though I lean a little towards that increasingly rare category of ‘slow’ people (which means I’m likely to make it through the first 2,000 words of the New Yorker piece), I am rather easily distracted too. Oh look, a former colleague just messaged me. I must reply. “Hey buddy, how you doing? Long time…” By now, I have forgotten about the article.  
Now, you must be thinking I am a tech cynic, one of those who say the internet is bad or some such thing just because he’s too slow to catch up. Well, not really (I mean the cynic bit, I am admittedly slow). I love the internet. Bless its invention, or journalism would be so much harder! Preparing questions for an interview would involve real ‘research’, writing an article would actually require me to ‘hunt’ for information. Now I can just ‘google’ it. Hey, look, Wikipedia says the actor played football in school; great, let’s throw in a question about that.
Writing no longer involves pen and paper, and reading increasingly involves no real books. It’s all virtual, all up there in the cloud. All lit-up glass screens and pixels. And you stop staring at one only to stare at another.
What’s my point, in all of this? Well, just that I think I sometimes miss the pre-technology-overload days. When you had to buy books, when you used encyclopedias to exercise your brain and your biceps in effect (Britannica’s stopped printing those mammoth volumes, signaling the death of another one of those things we grew up on), when games involved leaving the house, and when friendship involved meeting up and talking (no, I didn’t mean over Skype!).
But hey, as a friend says, nostalgia makes the past prettier than it really was. Would I exchange Google for the 32 volumes of Britannica? No, thank you very much. Would I meet friends without them violently punching on BlackBerrys? Yes, please.
Anyway, this rant is already longer than 600 words, so if you’ve reached this far, congratulations, you’re perhaps slow too. Welcome to the club. Oh, hang on, someone uploaded new vacation photos; aah, a new music video; wow, new restaurant in Bandra; oh, my friend’s pinging… Wait, what were we talking about?

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