Coincidentally, in last few days I had a few conversations with a group of friends about which mode of communication to use Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp or stick to e-groups on Yahoo which do just fine. All the discussions were among friends who were born in 197X.
We started off our lives with extremely limited communication options. We didn’t have a telephone in the house. The only way to meet or talk to a friend was to walk or cycle up to his home and give him a shout. And go to another friends place and call him and call another and proceed to your favorite hangout place. As we grew older we simplified this by deciding a time and place for the next meeting. It worked quite well. We didn’t really have many friends outside our city. We used to write letters to our uncles and cousins staying elsewhere. Very few modern folks had a pen-friend, someone living abroad whom you know only through the handwritten letters and some photographs that might come once in a while. Getting a letter addressed to you was an event that would make your day.
Eventually, we did get a telephone in 1980s and Emails reached us in 1995 after that the evolution of our modes of communication gathered speed. But in heart of hearts we are still those give a shout kind of guys- very comfortable with intimate, one on one, heartfelt communications, the guys who are happy to receive a letter that runs into pages.
But who communicates like that now a days. When have you last received a hand written letter from your friend? 5 years ago, 10 years ago….may be more.
Till 5-7 years ago, we used to get emails from friends. Me and my wife had most of our courtship on emails. We used to go to cybercafes and used to write really long emails talking about state of minds. But with the advent of social media, even email has lost its status. When have you received an email from your friends describing his holiday or new job or intricacies of new relationship….think. It was quite long ago.
Twitter, FB, WA et el came and shook our communication habits. The communication is now instantaneous, two-way, spontaneous and one as to many…. Frankly, my generation of people is still coping up with it. I am not an expert in these forms of communication but I am certainly open to exploring them. Out of all the social media form of communications I can speak confidently about these three : Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp. I have tried snapchat, Pinterest, foursquare and others but they didn’t really hold my interest.
I entered Twitter rather late. Twitter asked me access to my own inbox to connect to my own friends on Twitter. I didn’t see the point but still played along. Then I learnt another trick, you follow others who in turn would follow you. With that hope i followed many people, celebrities. Very few followed me back. I tried to tweet about somethings that came to my mind…Not really sure what happened to those tweets. Then I started to observe who is doing well on Twitter. I found just 2 sets of people.
1. Celebrities (actors, sports personalities, models, politicians)
2. Those who generate content for mass consumption (newspapers, magazines, TV channels etc)
Both of them had some content, news or announcements. Newspapers distributed genuine news while whatever celebrities sent directly to your tweet-box was a BIG news. I understand there is a third kind of community which uses Twitter rather well, that is activists. Understand that entire Arab Spring movement or protests in Egypt or elections in Malaysia were coordinated on Twitter. I quickly realized it is not for me. I do have a Twitter handle (@mrvivekvaidya) but I am quite dormant there. Some day if I manage to become a celebrity, I would be proud to have the blue tick next to this handle. 🙂
Facebook, however, really caught my attention. The experience was mesmerizing. I would proactively search for my friends and wait for them to accept my friends request. I would upload old photographs and tag my friends. Write how my mood is and what I am doing on hourly basis to begin with….which later dwindled down to once in 2 days. I connected with quite a few people from my past, whom I thought i would never meet again. I am and would remain very thankful to Marc Zuckerberg for that. Friend requests flew in and those whom I barely remembered were on my friends list now. Initial communication which was personal and originated from the fact that every single person on my friends list was actually a friend, started to lose its intensity. The initial enthusiasm receded, I realized that Facebook was not an always happy place as it seemed. There was an unsaid but directly visible competition among friends to project happier, fuller life. I started reading surveys which said Facebook has accelerated depression among many people across the world. Whats worse, for some people a platform that was supposed to have been designed to connect people had resulted in social isolation.
Then came Whatsapp. Initially, I didn’t get whats the big deal. Every other social media had chat and sms service. So whats new? As I joined the bandwagon, I realized there is a slight difference. Those on whatsapp were friends with whom I could easily share my mobile number, without any apprehensions. Even if we had groups, every member in the group was known to each other or the purpose of the group was well defined. I could communicate, share comments and photos with the group more openly. I could tweak the conversations to suit the group psyche and past references. It’s nice. I started enjoying the social conversations again.
I don’t know what future holds for us. Perhaps, nth version of google glass would allow us to communicate by telepathy but for now I have settled myself between email, Facebook and Whatsapp.
But as I said in heart of hearts I am still the old give-a-shout kinda guy, trying to adapt to modern communication. Email is like a letter to me. When I want to communicate something long, intricate and thought provoking I write an email. When I feel like walking up the stage, take my position behind a dias and hog some limelight I use Facebook. Likes and comments are like claps and whistles to me. Communicating on Facebook is nothing short of a mini-performance, which I cherish once in a while.
And when I really feel like giving my friends a shout and pull them to favorite hangout to talk endlessly over half a cup of tea at a non-de script tea stall, I go to Whatsapp. Talking on Whatsapp is like a group of friends chatting with each other, cracking jokes, pulling each others leg and generally having a good time. You don’t expect any likes or comments here… I quite enjoy chatting with my friends located in different cities, countries and timezones and love the sharing and talking to relive olden days.
… Well I do hope to tweet a lot once the blue tick appears in front of my twitter handle.Share on