As ironical as it is, Sherry Turkle just finished her session about internet addiction at the second day of THiNK, and I couldn’t wait a minute to pick up my phone and tweet about it. And 10 minutes later, yet again, here I am jotting down my thoughts to blog about the same. Well, in my defence, she admitted that technology isn’t wrong, being on the internet isn’t wrong, it’s how you do it that matters!
Out of the several points raised during the session, one that particularly caught my attention was the talk about multiple personalities. Being a twitter addict, I can’t help but agree, having an account on any social networking website gives you a feeling of seclusion, as if you’re on an island far away from your house and can behave like the person you always wanted to be, but couldn’t for whatsoever reasons. No matter whether you have an anonymous account or a real one, your personality in real life and online will always be different, even if you don’t notice it. This holds true for everyone, film stars, sportsmen, journalists, men posing as women, women posing as dogs (yes!) or the rest of us, if I may quote Mr. Vadra, ‘mango people’.
The perfect example for this would be the recent tweet by Suresh Raina. Well, even though he blamed it on his nephew, who probably didn’t even know about the tweet till he read it the next day in newspapers, it was pretty obvious that the tweet was a genuine impulsive reaction by Raina, something that was in his mind, something that ‘Suresh Raina the cricketer’ could never say, but something that ‘Suresh Raina the Indian’ wanted to!
Agreeing with Sherry, as much as I believe such alternate personalities help us immensely, giving us a zone to fall back into when reality is being a bitch, there has to be a line drawn. Tweeting at social functions is not acceptable, chatting with friends far away (or who’s profile says ‘far away’ but could be living in your neighborhood) while hanging out with friends who clearly want to spend time with you, updating status on facebook instead of calling your closed ones and giving them the good news personally..these are a few things that need to be avoided. Technology can blind us and force us to believe in a reality that doesn’t exist. It can make us forget the reality we are supposed to live in. Slowly, our real identity becomes just a part of our multiple online personalities.
This is not about opposing or rejecting technology; I love the internet and its practically impossible to take my blackberry away from me. This is just about being logical and knowing that all that glitters is not gold. It’s about using technology and not letting technology use you. It’s about doing the right thing for your own good. It’s about building conversations and not mere virtual connections.
Leaving you with your thoughts, and quoting my favourite from the session: “Technology creates an illusion of companionship without the demands of intimacy” – Sherry Turkle
By Nidhi Thakur for Thinkworks.in