I came across this article on BBC News a short while ago. An increasing interest in social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Orkut is giving rise to hyper-connected generation. As the writer puts it, users are not only sending mails and text messages but “lifecasting” words and video 24 hours a day. I wonder whether all this worth something. Why are we so obsessed with remaining “connected” with the rest of the world all the time? Why are we so entirely incapable of living our lives “offline” without feeling the obsessive need to check our mails every 10 seconds? There is also apparently a new phenomenon that the author calls micro-blogging. They are one-to-many messages broadcast like blogs that help people keep up with goings on in your life.
Now, I am all for blogging, seeing as I am myself a regular blogger. However, I fail to understand why anyone would be interested in whether you have brushed your teeth and had coffee in the morning. Being on both Facebook and Orkut myself, I can vouch for the fact that both are terribly addicting. In fact, they actively encourage you to abandon all pretense of productive work and distract yourself. I have been guilty of the behaviour several times myself. But now, the novelty has worn off. I am no longer as interested in either site as I was when I first joined. It is convenient to get in touch with friends when you feel like, but sometimes I feel constrained to check and update my profile because my friends expect me to do so.
Then, there is the question of who exactly a “friend” is. Does someone you knew when you were five years old and in kindergarten count? Believe it or not, I actually got a request from someone claiming he was in kindergarten with me and would like to be my friend. He added, in his scrap on Orkut, that he thought I was a fantastic person and warm-hearted too!! What the hell? How does he know I am a nice person when he hasn’t even seen me for 20 years? This spurred me on to abandoning my Orkut profile. I am back on it now, a year later but am much more conservative about who I accept as friends than I was then. There are days when this networking nonsense goes completely out of hand and I feel like a fool for having accepted it in the first place.
So, while staying in touch is an excellent thing, a balance must be struck between a person’s online and offline life. To me, my offline life is more important than my online life, hopefully. And, I certainly hope I never become one of those Facebook-obsessed individuals who are online all the time. I do have a life outside of the Internet and proud of it!