Last year, at the funeral service of one of my uncle there was a bit familiar face among many unknown faces. After a couple of minute of struggling, I was finally able to make it, that’s one of my Facebook friends. I thought let me go and greet him but then again I thought, “Why should I go? Let him come to me!” A while later the service gets over yet I am in my world and he in his! Similarly, another day I was in a conference, and my Uncle introduced me to a man of his age. We smiled at each other, shook hands like two strangers meeting for the first time. Whereas by then we were celebrating our 3rd friendsversary on Facebook and giving regular thumbs up on our posts yet we were strangers! 

The boon of social media has bridged the gap in connectivity and spaced us to share and care our emotional, ethical and moral values. My friend Sheetal rightly says, “I love social networking because I don’t want to lose my friends. They are very precious to me!” But is it ever possible to give personal attention to 1,385 friends on Facebook alone! Obviously not! I realised how I can say she is my friend when I don’t even have the sense to care about her?  Am I mad at becoming a public figure? Am I a friend or a virtual character? 

Am I building Connectivity or displaying my territory?

While going through some emotional breakdown moments, I shared my thoughts on Facebook status. And lo and behold, the tap of thumbs ups started flowing but thanks to  the Candles Online man, my lovely elder brother CP commented “Bachha, Kuch Bol Raha hai” (the kid is saying something) and on the other side he personally asked, “What happened?

Thanks to pioneers of social media forums for giving us the space of status to share our current state of emotion but what does it mean in the busy business of I, Me and My world? How many times I have paused and asked my friend, “Is everything okay? Your status story is different, can I help you?” 

Has the bane of our hearts plunged the boon of Connectivity?     

During 2016, 2nd surgical strike one of my friends posted a picture on Facebook. That’s of a dog pissing on the national flag of Pakistan. I gently asked her to remove that post as it will affect her personal identity and our national identity on the social forum as well. She respected my advice and alongside one of her friend who is a complete stranger to me, sent me the friend request and inbox me “Brother, I don’t know you, but I really like your view. Can I be your friend?

The boon of Social media connectivity is freedom of speech and expression which has a more significant impact. Then how come my boon appears as a bane? 

Am I retracting and abusing my boon?

Connectivity is always boon, but even the slightest retraction from the purpose turns the BOON into BANE!   

Bible says, 

Today I have given you a choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the decision you make. Oh, that you would choose life so that you and your descendants might live!


Why on earth is his phone switched off?‘ there was panic in my voice. ‘He must be in a meeting.’ said my sister. ‘No he always keeps it on silent mode during meetings doesn’t switch it off.. ‘.’OK then the battery must be dead‘ she came up with another reason and I was quick to shoot it down. ‘It was fully charged in the morning. It’s not possible that it drains off so quickly‘ by now my mind was in a tizzy. I called his secretary who said sir had already left for the day. Now my heart was beating loudly and all sorts of bad thoughts were coming in my mind. This whole episode lasted only 15 minutes and here came my dear hubby smilingly into the house. ‘Why was your phone switched off?’ was my greeting to him. He was taken aback. Actually his phone had fallen down and battery and cover had come off since he was so near to the house he decided to assemble it at home. I realized how our need to be connected all the time is so high we can’t imagine what to do if for some time that connection is lost. 

I don’t know how many times this has happened with you but I am notorious for it. I sent a message to my friend on WhatsApp. And then checked, one tick – ‘Oh OK not delivered yet’. After 10 Mins – double tick, ‘OK great now she will see it’. I double checked her last seen also to understand how much time has lapsed since she was away from her phone. Another 15 minutes pass now when I checked it showed blue ticks. ‘Oh great now she has seen it. But wait she has seen the message then why has she not replied?’ Another 5 minutes pass away and now my thoughts are ‘Why is she ignoring me? After reading the message also she doesn’t have the time to answer me. My God, this lady has become very snobbish these days.‘ Later on I come to know that the phone was in the hands of her 3 year old daughter who was playing some game on the phone and happily clicking on all the notifications also. 

How many times has it happened that when you send a message on the WhatsApp group and after some time check on the info button to see who all have read it. And wonder why they didn’t respond. 

Actually the more we are getting connected the more we are becoming addicted or enslaved by this connectivity. We can’t seem to function without it or exist without it.

Summer vacations are on. And our kids go to their friend’s house to play. Ya! what’s new in this even we used to spend the whole afternoons at each other’s house playing board games. Well the difference is here they all carry their cell phones, the host swtiches on the hotspot to give everyone access to wifi , they log in to an online multi-player game and sit together everyone’s head buried in their respective mobiles playing against each other. Looking at them I wondered whether they were actually more connected by technology or more disconnected. 

But then this is how our life is. I wonder how we as kids managed in the times of landlines and how our parents used to keep a track of us. Nowadays it’s mandatory to give even small children mobile phones to keep a track of them when they go out to play or go to the tuitions etc. Feels like an invisible leash on them. 

I am not trying to portray only the negative part. I love being on WhatsApp. The best part for me is the group chats. When we can talk to family members or friends together. It’s like sitting in one place and chatting. With our busy schedules this becomes a boon.  My sisters and I talk mostly via our WhatsApp group. There is no Compulsion of immediate answer. A topic starts in the morning and each one keeps replying as and when they have time. We end up discussing the same topic till evening. It’s very comfortable for us. We can have long chats also and it doesn’t intrude into our daily routine. The down side to it is if I get a call from her I get worried that it must be some emergency or else she would have just messaged me. 

Facebook is another such frenemy (friend and enemy). I am connected to so many people on fb. Some of whom I haven’t met for 20-25 years. Even though catching up is fun at times I wonder do I really need to be connected with so many people many of them just acquaintances? And most importantly does everyone need to know so many details of my life. 

With so many controversies over the data theft or other privacy issues in news these days we really need to rethink how much of ourselves do we want to share with the world. And how much should we stay connected. It’s OK for the Wi-Fi connection to be lost at times who knows you might just discover some new hobby or something new about our family members. Like we all recently did. My kids were playing a game on the computer, my husband was busy with his laptop and I was admiring the recent vacation pics posted by my friends on Facebook. When Suddenly due to some fault the Wi-Fi stopped working. After a lot fretting and fuming and calling up the internet guys we came to know that we won’t get a connection till evening. Wonder of wonders we survived and actually enjoyed ourselves. Our family of four really connected over a game of Uno. 


The online world creates a virtual connection between people. It allows us to more efficiently gather news about family, friends, acquaintances, celebrities and so on. The virtual connection inspires many fantasies and fools people into believing they know much more than they know. It provides a way for people to connect with many more people than they can in person.

For shy people, the online world creates a safer way to reach out and get to know more people. It helps find people who appear to be like you much more quickly. It makes a lot of people feel less alone.

The online world makes it a lot easier to gather information that is useful in our lives. We can find the cheapest place to buy something. We can find health information that saves our lives. We can find employment or business opportunities we would probably never find if there were no internet. I have been utilising internet for my need as much as possible too.

Drawbacks of the Online World

Unfortunately, because people value online relationships so much, they take the online world very seriously, which gives others a new way to bully people, con them, steal their money, and otherwise hurt people — only much more efficiently. Also, some people have a hard time understanding the difference between the virtual world and the real world. Because there is much less complete information about others in the virtual world, but it seems like there is more information, many people can be fooled into thinking they know things that aren’t true, and this leaves them much more vulnerable to being deceived.

Despite the access to more information, the online world also leaves out a lot of information that most of us use on a daily basis without being aware of it. Most people do not realise how much information their brains assume based on the information we gather online. We make all kinds of assumptions, which I think it is fair to call fantasies about the meaning of online events. This is particularly true when we meet people online, and come to think we know them well. We have no idea how much we don’t know and how relevant that information is. The online world makes us feel as if we know others, but if we are unaware that this feeling may not reflect reality, we are much more vulnerable.

People can create fake news. They can use counterfeit avatars and fake personalities quite easily on the internet. There are many ways to deliberately or inadvertently make things seem different than they are. It is easier to fool people online because without seeing the way people behave in a variety of contexts, it is hard to be able to verify what people say about themselves.

The characteristics of the way our brains function make this difficult to detect. Our brains automatically fill in pictures for which we only have a few verified data points. Our minds do this in a way that is difficult to be aware of. Mostly, we are fooling ourselves. Our desire to connect with others, together with the absence of real-world data and the propensity to automatically fill in details that don’t exist in the real world makes the internet a dangerous place for the credulous. Because few people see this, it is easy to like being online. Being online is like eating a candy bar instead of a lot of protein. We get a sugar rush and forget that this will not last until suddenly we bonk, running out of energy.

Stay Safe!!!


I was busy typing something in my cellphone – when the security guard came up and said “Maam, no cellphones while crossing the road”. I looked at him and felt a bit embarrassed. Why did he had to tell me something so obvious? What was so important in my phone that it did not even strike me that I could get run over by a vehicle? Well, a lot of obvious things are not apparent to a lot of us who are busy growing our digital footprint. Why is it important for us to improve our digital footprint? What are we losing by doing so much on our cell phones and our dependency on it?

Our mental abilities go down with our dependencies on the smart phone and smart laptops. We tend to become a dumber with a smart phone in our hand. The other day I had to pay fees for my son’s academic year. The admin of the school politely told us that we are eligible for 10% + 10% discount on the total tuition fees. I gave her my debit card and asked to make the payment in full. Suddenly she started to look for her smart phone because she was unable to calculate 10% + 10% discount on a particular amount. She found a calculator which did not have a % button for direct calculation – she was totally lost how to calculate the amount. I quickly did the calculations and told her. She looked at me first in amazement and then in embarrassment – then she quickly left the office. She came back after 3 mins with her smart phone (apparently she had left it in another office) and did the calculations without a problem. I wondered if my choice of school was right if the admin of the school couldn’t do a simple maths calculation with a paper and pen.

One day I see a whatsapp message from my cleaning maid and I am surprised. Does she have a smartphone and is she educated enough to operate whatsapp? The message was a forward one and then later on there was one more message to say that she will be late to work. I was impressed and thought that maybe I underestimated her. When I enquired about this, she mentioned that her 13 year old daughter is a pro in operating smart phones and helps in keeping her employers informed. “Does your 13 year old daughter has a smart phone?” I asked. “Haan madam, she found it somewhere and doesn’t want to give it up! I don’t stop her because she needs to learn to operate all this naa just like all you people.” She said in an obvious tone, she clearly was proud of her daughter’s new ability and interest in the digital world. I got worried thinking about her daughter and what will happen if this little girl isn’t careful enough in the digital world. It can give her a lot of freedom which she might not use responsibly. I tried to tell this to my maid but I don’t think she understood. I asked her to make me meet her daughter, she agreed but her daughter never came here.

Today I have all the information I need in a click (or touch) of a button. But do I need all this information? Internet is full of fake news and information. News that can cause us a lot of harm. You can easily find news on YouTube which claims that some of the known personalities are either dead or characterless. Is that true? No. Why are people filling up such things in the social media? Because they are earning money out of it. And apparently videos of molestation or riots go viral at a much larger scale than a video showing something positive that a social worker might be doing for the nation. You cannot trust everything that is present on internet.

My gynecologist made a thumb rule for me while I was pregnant. She was very clear in stating that – “If there is particular condition that you are experiencing, just whatsapp me and I will clear your doubt. At any cost don’t use google to find your solution.” I did not understand her when she made this statement. I agreed with her but also believed that she is being too paranoid about internet. Then a situation happened when I was feeling way too much heartburn much over my comfort level. And I resorted to google before informing my doctor. After an hour of google random searches – I was confused, scared and believed that there was something wrong with my pregnancy. I quickly whatsapped my doctor and she reassured me that things are ok and I need to drink some cold milk. I was still scared so I visited her. She did a scan and confirmed that all was ok with me and the baby. Then she asked me the reason for my anxiety and I told her embarrassed that I resorted to google. She wasn’t angry, she just smiled and said “Now you know why I made this thumb rule for all my patients. Every pregnancy is unique and you are bound to feel things differently in your body. Unfortunately, there are a million articles on internet which aren’t true and they will just make you more anxious which is not good for you or the baby.” I agreed and never ever resorted to google again at least to search for medical conditions. My friend recently had mild breast pain and she did the same mistake – instead of visiting a doctor she asked google. After googling she was sure that she has breast cancer and ultimately post a scan doctor confirmed that it was nothing.

My 3 year old son knows how to operate my phone. He can install apps on his own now. And last week I had to install a parental control app to make sure that he doesn’t download anything inappropriate for age mistakenly. It is very easy to get swayed in the digital world. While installing a parental control app I was asking myself if I am overdoing it but there was a voice from inside me – it is better to take precautions than to regret later on.

I hope all my readers and my near dear ones strike the right balance of using digital world in a positive and constructive way. The line between positive usage and negative usage is extremely thin. It is required to pay right attention at every point of time to ensure that our digital footprint is not causing us any harm.


When I was in the Third Grade, I enjoyed the companionship of a wonderful friend in my class. Her father, being a doctor with the government had been transferred to the city where I lived and she had got admitted to my school. We shared two years of beautiful friendship. And then when we were in Grade Five, her father got transferred again. We both were very sad to part with each other, never knowing whether we would ever meet each other again.

Those were not the days of easy and cheap accessibility to mobile phones and internet. WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype and the like were not even in the picture. All houses were not privileged to have land phone connections also. But the good news for both of us was that we had land phones in our houses. So we exchanged our addresses and land phone numbers. And thus, began our exchange of long and short letters. We were learning letter-writing in our respective schools that time. Naturally, our letters to each other were strictly in the format that was taught by our teachers – with all the formal salutations and all. (I would never write a friendly letter so formally if I were to write one, today!)

Though we had land phones, the connectivity was not easy. Intercity calls had to be Trunk Booked. (To explain those of this present generation, intercity calls had to be routed through a common operator who would in turn connect to the required number and call you back. And so you could speak for some time with a person from another city or state.) These STD calls were tariffed at a higher price than the normal calls within the city. But, the tariff rates were much low very early in the morning and late at night.

I remember waking up at 5 o’ clock on weekends to book a call to my friend. To prevent my parents from waking up, I used to reduce the volume of the phone so that when the operator called back with the connection, the ring of the phone won’t disturb the sleep of others.

Connectivity seemed cumbersome then. But, it was exciting. The wait of a whole week to be able to chat with a friend was richly rewarding in terms of the joy and satisfaction it gave.

Fast forward twenty years . . .

The Digital Age where connectivity is just a click away has made it possible to access loved ones anytime anywhere. The whole world seems to be so small, after all. People can even participate in weddings and social functions from different parts of the world over the web. The regret of physical absence can be compensated by emotional fulfilment of one’s virtual presence on such occasions.

Its more than twenty years now, since my friend and I wrote letters to each other and made STD calls to hear each other’s voice. I have recently shifted from one city to another. Now, I no longer do I have to wake up early to book calls to my loved ones in the other city, nor do I have to write letters. ‘I am just a phone call away’, I had told them while parting. Mobile phones, WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. make sure that we remain connected to each other and are a part of each other’s joys, sorrows and other life events.

While it is so exciting to get to know who is upto what, to display one’s talents and achievements, to share one’s thoughts and views, to mobilize public opinion on issues of social nature, putting personal data on the public forum is scary indeed. No matter how tight your security settings are, those in the business know how to have access to it. And no, I’m not referring to hackers only. Professional data collecting agencies can get unprofessional too. The big scandal of the Cambridge Analytica is an example that speaks for itself.

It feels so nice to see Facebook compile the whole year’s events that you have posted and present a video clipping at the end of the year or send you a reminder of what you had posted on the same date five years back. However, it is scary to realize that there are minds who are analyzing and scrutinising our posts – and they are NOT in our ‘Friends List’!

My purpose is not to scare you to an extent that you shun all social networking sites and confine yourself to your room. The intention is to caution you – ‘Beware of what you Share. What you Share, stays in There’.

Be wise enough not to share anything and everything in the social networking sites. More than the satisfaction from the number of ‘Likes’ you get, you create memories for analyzers doing their job. The information which wouldn’t harm you or others even when it gets into the hands of other parties can be comfortably shared. So, use your discretion. Don’t be hasty to upload something just because you are feeling bored and have nothing to do. Exercise restraint.

Technology sure, does make life easier and brings closer those who are miles apart. But it also pushes those who are close, far away from each other.

Let’s be wise in keeping technology under our control and not end up being controlled by it. Connectivity is an essentiality in the world today. No longer do people travel by ships for months together to cross continents. A few hours in an airline of your choice, and you can land up in any part of the world. That’s the ease and blessing of connectivity. Wisdom lies in NOT making it an excuse to increase the distance between each other, before looking for means to bridge the gap.


Whoa! What a world! What an opportunity to know the outer world!!! What a way to explore all hidden desires!!! What an excellent platform to let my wild imagination be played out!!! There’s no one to know!!! There’s no one to restrict!!! There’s no one to shout at!!! All I have is me, my imagination and freedom! Absolute Freedom!

I spent a lot of money after Yahoo chatting… I made many new friends… I was all alone in the city and there was nobody to control me. I was on my own. Soon my favourite pastime became going to the café and chatting for hours over reading books. Later I was introduced to Friendster.com, then Myspace.com and then came Orkut.com. But I was not addictive to all of those because nothing could beat the attraction and allurement of Yahoo messenger. Interacting with people has been my favourite thing. And Yahoo messenger gave the scope to interact with a wide range of people.

Time went on like that…

I was late yet finally got the taste of a new networking site called FACEBOOK.COM. Yahoo messenger became boring and outdated as soon as I started exploring the charm of FB. Yahoo Messenger had allowed only a coffee shop to hangout but FB gave a city to live in with the people we found on internet. Life changed literally I would say. The new world of interaction seemed very interesting, captivating and extremely addictive. I have been always very imaginative from my childhood and when I came to know about Role Play I was hooked to it for hours. Role Play gave me the scope to do whatever that I had ever dreamt and desired in life though in the forms of imagination only, it devastated my focus on the most important things of life. I could have achieved lot more in my life if I would have mastered the use of internet instead of being enslaved to it. I deeply regret it today.

No doubt there were lots of benefits of being connected to internet; I am not denying them at all. Candles Online is part of being connected. But despite of all those benefits there are some adverse effects of social networking sites or being connected which had alarmed us over the last couple of years.  And the effects are devastating. Let’s look in to them one after the other as under: 

  1. Lost skill of Face to Face Interactions: This is one of the biggest setbacks which social networking sites have brought in to our lives. People are busier with computers and smart phones than person to person interactions. Sometimes we joke even husband and wife communicate each other through whatsapp inside the same house as both will be busy in their mobile phones instead of being with each other. We can laugh about this but this has killed the effectiveness of personal human interactions. 
  1. Causes of Break ups and Divorces:Sometimes I talk rudely with my wife when she asks something because she interrupts my communication with others on my smart phone or laptop. That should not be the case. I regret it later but the relationship gets affected. I am quoting an article which I found on web which talks about how FB causes break ups in relationships which reads as under:

“It’s not official until it’s on Facebook,” they say. But keeping it off Facebook could be the best way to ensure your romantic relationship stays strong. Individuals who use Facebook excessively are much more likely to experience Facebook-related conflict with their partner, which can lead to non-digital conflicts as well, including emotional and physical cheating, breakups, and even divorce, a study says. 

  1. Induces Jealousy and Peer Pressure: My friend Prabhjot once wrote about this in her article on our webzine. She says, 

Looking at all the goody goody pictures of people you are hardly in touch with gives a feeling that – whole world is having fun and living a perfect life but me. It is a very obvious feeling.” She also described the story of a 17 year old boy who killed himself while taking a selfie. He wanted to take a “cool” selfie on a railway track with an approaching train from behind. He got run over by the train.

That’s what peer pressure or being liked by others can make to you. This is how social media induces it. 

  1. Vulnerable to Criminal Activities: Crimes on internet is when computer networks or devices are used as means to perform fraud and identity theft through social engineering as well as cyber bullying, cyber stalking and cyber warfare. And when we upload all our personal details we get exposed to the danger of being harassed and bullied online by the criminals. 
  1. Obsession and Addiction to Internet can be fatal: The obsession and addiction of internet makes life worse. Women [64%] are more likely than men [55%] to consider themselves addicted to the internet. In the 13-17 age demographic, up to 3 out of every 4 kids could be considered addicted to the internet. The percentage of 18-24 year olds who would qualify as being addicted to the internet today: 71%. These obsession and addiction can spoil the students as they lose concentration on their studies. It makes the adult neglect their real life by spending more time on virtual world and spend life idly. 
  1. Severe Health Hazards:There’s an interesting article on ‘whashingtonpost.com’ that I read which my cousin shared once really alarmed me and can really make you worry as well.

The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.

That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day, according to research published by Kenneth Hansraj in the National Library of Medicine. The study will appear next month in Surgical Technology International. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.

Long hours in front of the screen can spoil our eyes, makes us lazy and obese when it is continued as a daily practice.

What can we conclude now after understanding all these alarming facts and information?

Couple of verses from the Bible comes to my mind:

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

From childhood we are told, “anything excess is bad“. If we don’t make the social medias and our being connected our slave today then they will rule over us, destroy us and devastate our peaceful lives. It is we who are responsible for allowing being connected to be a boon or bane; the choice is ours.

Stay Blessed!!!

(Picture Credit: HERE )