Thursday, 16 July 2020

From a Virtual Recluse

src: vecteezy

Dear Social Media,

I got to know about you at a pretty young age. I'd sit next to my sister and read her chats in Yahoo Messenger. It was entertaining even though I didn't always understand her conversations. I was ten when she made an account for me on Orkut. I don't remember if I was particularly excited about it; none of my friends really knew about Orkut then. But I would still log into my account and embellish my profile occasionally. 

Of course, my scrapbook (the then-inbox), friend-requests, and testimonials were monitored by my sister. Which was fair, considering how my friends-list was mostly her own classmates. It took me two years to finally have a 'friend' of my own age. After that, there was no stopping me. The daily chat sessions evolved from there to Google Buzz, to G-Talk, and further on to Facebook. Oh, those were the days. 

I changed my profile picture whenever someone took a decent photo of me, which wasn't often, by the way. I posted plenty of pictures after each trip. I'd watch the count of likes and compare them with my friends'. According to my scale, below a hundred for a profile pic was embarrassing. Thankfully, I managed to cross that mark most of the time. 

Each of those likes and comments gave me a special sense of validation. I'd know it was time to post something new when the numbers begin to fall. And the circle continues.

But I wasn't out there as much as I wished to be. I wanted to be active in your space, to post witty remarks about my daily activities, or more of the photos that were rotting away in my desktop folders. But I couldn't. I told myself that I'd start once I reached college. Surely, I would have a lot of things happening at the time, and I'd be prompted to make my online presence known.

So college came by, and your new popular space turned out to be Instagram. I joined it. And guess what? I did have things to post about, but once again, I stopped myself. And I couldn't tell why. Maybe I could but I didn't want to admit it. That maybe you intimidated me? You'd make me realize that no one really cared about my presence at your place? That I'd look like an uninvited guest that made no difference?

I used to enjoy being with you, back when the fun conversations I had with my friends was all you were about. When did you start poking at my self worth? When did my image in your world start to matter? Or was it the other way round? That you mattered so little to me that I refused to give you any importance?  I'd like to believe the latter. 

I remember waking up to a flood of notifications from you and feeling elated. You'd give me something to look forward to. You'd give me something to obsess over and spend hours on. I had my own territory in you but it never felt established enough. While I wanted to be present, I didn't want to share my life with you. Maybe I didn't need to fight that.

I thought I became indifferent to you, but I was wrong. You did matter. I desperately needed you to keep my social circle alive. Just like in the real world, however, here too I remained reclusive and a silent spectator most of the time. It suits me well, I think.  

You may mean different things to different people. But mostly, you'll remain the glue that keeps connections together. It's something I'm glad about. But I ask you this, to remind your tenants that you are not a ground to measure their worth with. 

I hope that clears the fog between us. I don't detest you. You bring the world together in one space and we need that now more than ever. Thanks for helping me keep up with the world.

With a little love and a lot of gratitude,
A Virtual Recluse

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