RELATIONSHIP FORMED IN PERSON OR THROUGH ONLINE PLATFORM?

If 20 years ago, you asked, “what is the basic amenity to sustain a life?” then the answer would have been its food, clothes and house… And maybe education to be an added aspect to the earlier ones. However, in today’s era, the answer has a slight change, with the technology also being a part of it. Technology has become an integral part of our lives at least from last 10 years or so. Almost every little work is dependent on technology in some way or the other. Even our personal life and relationships have technological involvement. In earlier days when there were no phones Whatsapp and Facebook, people didn’t stay in touch like they are in today and had less meet up, somewhere people had to put effort to keep their relationship long lasting, but now real-life relationships have turned into virtual relationships.

I am not saying people these days don’t fall in love, they do. In my point of view, the whole idea of two people falling in love is still the same but now with the technology in our hand we feel very easy and convenient to maintain our relationship. No doubt technology is bringing us closer, we can easily stay in touch with our respective partners regardless of the distance.

It’s no wonder in saying two people meeting on a social media platform can fall in love. At times, it may happen that we meet someone in real life and then through social media, we come close. See actually, the thing, in reality, is, at first we may be attracted towards a good and appealing personality but eventually it’s the human behaviour we admire and adore. A similar thing happens on social media or say when people meet online. Sometimes the person we meet online turns out to be unfit for us and at other time we find the right person. Now you will ask how? So, I am going to tell you my experience on this.

I met a guy in a cultural fest. Although we didn’t intermingle somewhere we felt a spark. After the cultural fest, we went to our respective places and we weren’t in touch for 4 years. We had added each other on our social media accounts but still, we didn’t talk. Two years back we started chatting. Very soon we added each other on our Whatsapp too and hence late night chat was what we loved to do. Obviously, the spark was still alive and it ignited more and more. We used to chat every day. Gradually and slowly both of us realized we are way too different and we couldn’t be compatible. Mutually we decided that we needed a fling and so it was.

Another story is: I met another guy two years ago at a house party. Again the same story, not a single word for months. There wasn’t any sign of interaction between us. One day, we met online and had a casual conversation and again no words for many days. Yes, we did find each other being attracted and hence we became friends. Our chatting routine wasn’t so frequent nevertheless we enjoyed chatting with each other. We admire each other and now we are really good friends. Despite any meeting, we understand each other so well. So here technology brought us closer and it gets easier for us to stay in touch for all day long as we stay in different cities.

Not only this, many of us have many friends whom we meet virtually and find solace. We find very easy and comfortable in maintaining friendship and relationship with whom we meet in real life. No matter if it is day or night, raining or storming, we can easily reach up to our friends. As it is said excessiveness of anything harms and so due to the excessiveness of technology people ruin their relationship. No matter whether we fall in love online or in reality, people want to have mutual respect and trust. So I am not saying against or support of any one of the ways to keep relationships but I would say it is always better to keep a check on ourselves. 

CONNECT WITH CAUTION

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.

ARE WE CONNECTED TO BE ENSLAVED?

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 )

UNIQUE ONLINE FRIENDSHIP

Sits in the quiet of the room, going back in my mind to December 2015.

How do online connections happen? To me it is quite simple, God, our Creator, hears the prayers of His children and begins to move things around in our lives for us to connect to certain people. Sometimes that connection is only for that moment while others could last a lifetime.

His name came up on my Facebook profile one day, as a friend suggestion. Now, usually I ignore such things since we did not have any friends in common. But something about his picture caught my eye and I felt a strong compulsion to send a friend request without even looking over HIS profile. A day or two later he accepted my friend request. We didn’t speak right away as I was working so didn’t get online again until a few days later.

One day, we finally said hello to each other. Something in my heart sparked and I felt an instant connection. For the next few weeks we talked off and on since we were literally on opposite sides of the world. Our bond grew just a bit stronger every time we chatted. We kept the conversations light and happy but something told me deep in my heart that all was not quite as it seemed.

One morning, he came online and said his usual hello but I knew instantly something was very wrong. It took a little time but he finally opened up about what was going on in his life.

At first he was a bit uncomfortable and that is when I opened up my own heart completely. Now I don’t know how it happens but I could actually FEEL the pain and heartache he was going through. I have always been able to feel another person’s emotions and pain as my own but for it to happen with someone on the other side of the world? And over an internet connection??  How could that be??  I was a little shocked but then I saw God’s hand in it all and I smiled and said “Ok God, as you will.”

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

As I look back over these last 2 years and 4 months, I am so very grateful to have someone like him in my life. We have cried together, prayed together, teased and picked on each other. We have helped each other get through some difficult times. He was the first one I called, after the ambulance came, the day my mom had her first seizure in May of 2016. He prayed for me and my family right in that moment and the bond between us grew even stronger. We don’t talk daily like we use to but he knows that he can reach out to me at anytime and I can do the same.

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)

The love we share seems to go beyond any other I have experienced in my 52 years of life. He and I are soulmates, not in the husband and wife sense, but as friends but even that seems like an inadequate description. Whatever this connection is, I am so very thankful that it exists.

(Image Credit: Google Inc.)